#DiabetesDivide – How to Close The Gap

sidewalk-crumble-1487848-640x480I’m at the airport, waiting to get on a flight to NYC for The Diabetes Divide: Cities, Inequality, and the Spread of The Disease event hosted by The Atlantic and underwritten by Novo Nordisk US and thoughts about the upcoming discussions have actually prevented me from sleeping soundly. Why? Because we have a divide and the solution to close the gap isn’t simple.

Here’s the description of the event:

Diabetes is a serious public health challenge: 29 million Americans have diabetes, and 86 million more are pre-diabetic. Worse, the disease disproportionately strikes racial minorities, and trends show that diabetes prevalence is growing at an alarming rate in urban areas. How do socioeconomic, racial and geographic factors shape how the epidemic is being addressed in urban communities — and perceived by the general public?

In a town hall event with community leaders, patients, public health experts and more, The Atlantic will consider the social determinants of diabetes, and what they require of the response.

The “patients” on the discussion surrounding Citizens and Diabetes are Kelly Close of Close Concerns and diaTribe and me. We’ve been paired with a physician from Mount Sinai and the VP of Healthy Lifestyles, YMCA New York. The topic will be moderated and truth? I have no idea how the conversation will unfold.

There is a divide. Culture, race, perceptions, health insurance, food deserts, and motivation all play a part in the rise of Type 2 diabetes. These are the questions that caused my insomnia:

  • How do you change a society that values convenience?
  • How do you entice someone making minimum wage to purchase “healthy” food choices when few restaurants and grocery stores offer them at a reasonable price?
  • How do you counter cultural pressures surrounding food? (Imagine a 45 year-old construction worker saying to his friends: “Hold on while I run into the bodega and grab a kale salad with chicken and an apple for lunch.”)
  • How do you test individuals for pre-diabetes when they can’t afford to go to a clinic?
  • How do you explain to the healthcare system that simply telling an individual to lose weight and get some exercise is not going to change behaviors?
  • How do you get someone to take time out of their lives to do diabetes education programs or diabetes prevention programs when they’re working two jobs to feed their family?
  • How do you tell someone to walk a half-hour each day when there is no safe place for them to walk?
  • How do you “market” diabetes in way that truly matters?
  • How do you teach children that Type 2 diabetes does not have to be an inevitability in their lifetime when the latest statistics show that 1/3 of kids and adolescents are overweight or obese and they’re not getting enough physical activity?

Cities Changing Diabetes is a project that was begun by NovoNordisk and other partners looking for solutions. They understand that it takes more than one organization to attack this issue, so they are working with healthcare, non-profits, and social services organizations to combat the rise. It’s also important to note that rural areas have their own issues. Another time, another event.

My type of diabetes was not caused by race, weight, or sedentary lifestyle. (My beta cells left the pancreas party and never came back.) Type 2 diabetes is also not caused by race, weight, or sedentary lifestyle.

I don’t believe in the “You ate too much sugar and you are lazy. That’s why you have diabetes.” These can be contributing factors, but Type 2 diabetes is a metabolic disease that can, in many cases but not all, be prevented with small changes to every day life. (And more importantly, shaming and blaming individuals with Type 2 diabetes is also a cultural issue that needs addressing.)

How do we make a difference? Good question. I’m hoping for answers at this event and ways that I can help my diabetes community become healthier – and maybe prevent the community from growing larger. We’re a great group of people, but I’d like to keep it as exclusive as possible. The cost to enter this club is pretty expensive.

If you want to watch the event, you can register here. (You can see me be nervous live!)


#LaceUp4Diabetes – I'm Giving Away These Sweet Laces, Too!

unnamed-5I’m lazy. There. I said it. My cardiologist even told me: “You’re lazy.” (I like medical professionals who don’t beat around the bush.)

I need more exercise. O.K., I need to starting doing some exercise.

Ironically, Novo Nordisk contacted me a few days after my doctor’s appointment and asked me if I would participate in their #LaceUp4Diabetes campaign to show how we can take steps to reduce the risk of diabetes (or in my case, reduce my laziness and my blood glucose levels at the same time!). Of course, I said: Shoelaces?! Count me in!

I’ve got five extra sets of laces and I want to send them to five lucky random people within the next few days, so they can participate in the #LaceUp4Diabetes campaign on World Diabetes Day (November 14th…)

Here’s how you can get these sweet (yep, pun intended) laces:

Take a picture of you in your sneakers. (Points for creativity, you know! Think outside the box… or the sneakers in this case. Please do wear clothes.) Then, by Monday, November 9, 2015 at 5pm:

  • Instagram the pic using the #LaceUp4Diabetes as a hashtag and theperfectdblog in the caption (this way I’ll know it was meant for this giveaway!)
  • Facebook the pic using the #LaceUp4Diabetes as a hashtag and upload it to ThePerfectD’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/ThePerfectD What? You aren’t a fan of this page yet? All the cool kids are fans. Come jump off a bridge with us!
  • Tweet the pic using the #LaceUp4Diabetes as a hostage and mentioning @theperfectdblog in the tweet. Don’t follow me yet? Follow me. I’ll lead you down the primrose path or the yellow brick road or the rabbit hole, but I promise it will be fun!

I’ll select five lucky people based on creativity and ingenuity and the results from the swimsuit competition.  

I’ll announce the crazy people who participated and won on Tuesday, November 10th.

#LaceUp4Diabetes – I’m Giving Away These Sweet Laces, Too!If you’re selected, I’ll ask for your email and mail address and I’ll ship these laces out to you ASAP so you can have them by November 14, 2015.

You don’t have to have diabetes to participate. You just have to want to help take a single step towards diabetes awareness. 

As for me, I’m going to take a step. I’m joining a gym and will make it a priority to work out three days a week, even when I’m traveling. I’m packing my sneakers with the laces that remind me that I have the power to help myself…

Disclosure: Novo Nordisk sent me six pairs of shoelaces with no instructions. I’m doing this giveaway of my own free will and sending these to five people (because I kept a pair and laced them up on my sneaks…) of my own money (which I wish was free). They didn’t ask me to write about this. They didn’t ask me to share anything. We are a community. Sharing and helping and supporting is what we do. 

If you want to find out if you’re at risk of diabetes: AskScreenKnow.com

If you want to get a personalized support program for people who live with diabetes – and their caregivers: Cornerstones4Care.com

If you want to learn more about Novo Nordisk: novonordisk-us.com

Take a step, take a photo, win shoelaces. Go!