November is National Diabetes Month, which is an opportunity to reflect on the disease’s impact both on the more than 34 million diabetic Americans and also the toll it can take on our already spread thin clinical resources. According to the CDC, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the last 20 years. As the American population continues to age and struggle with weight or obesity, that number only continues to grow. More than 88 million U.S. adults—over a third—have prediabetes, and more than 84 percent of them are unaware.
The costs associated with diabetes are astronomical. According to the American Diabetes Association, one out of every $7.00 in healthcare costs is spent treating diabetes and its complications. This presents a very pressing issue for health plans who are footing the estimated $327 billion annual cost of diagnosed diabetes cases in America. Unlike Type 1 diabetes, which is caused when the pancreas produces little or no insulin, Type 2 diabetes is most often attributed to unhealthy eating habits and being overweight and can be reversed over time if the proper lifestyle modifications are made.
Wider Circle’s mission is to connect neighbors for better health. This includes empowering community members to live happier, healthier lives by focusing on critical elements such as nutrition and staying active with a trusted social network, which can have a substantial long-term impact on well-being. Whether it is due to economic, cultural or educational factors, many of our members struggle to maintain a healthy lifestyle for a myriad of reasons.
Just as our Wider Circle model is particularly well suited to help combat social isolation, it is also positioned to support our members in their efforts to make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent developing type 2 diabetes or to reverse it. Our programming connects members with nutritional food resources when healthy options are scarce, and teaches people how to prepare nutrient-rich food at home for both themselves and their families.
For Wider Circle member Florentina Pachec it came down to basic education. She had no formal schooling, and no one gave her the foundational knowledge of how to eat well. Since joining our Wider Circle community, she feels our program is like having nutrition, socialization and emotional support classes together with her friends. “It is never too late to help each other learn and improve. At the meetings we each bring something healthy to share and eat together,” said Ms. Pachec.
Pre-diabetic Rene Valdez also feels that the power of the Wider Circle community has had a positive impact on how he eats. Today, he has eliminated all junk food and has begun to put more vegetables into his diet, consuming more green juices and less processed, more natural products. “I love to share my health improvement and encourage other members to meet their goals,” said Mr. Valdez.
For Type 2 diabetic member Hector Galvan, his efforts to improve how he thinks about food have had a substantial impact not only on his own health but also that of his family. They collectively have made powerful adjustments to their diets. “Everyone is making changes in their diet and we go for a walk every day, in addition to our Wider Circle meetings,” said Mr. Galvan. These lifestyle changes have led to both weight loss as well as overall improvement in how he feels.
These are just a handful of experiences that are playing out in Wider Circle communities every day. Our team is proud of our unique peer-based community care model and the positive impact we are having on the neighbors we are dedicated to supporting. This includes championing them in their efforts to get and stay healthier, which can help minimize the prevalence of potentially life-threatening and costly diseases like Type 2 diabetes over time.
The information included in this blog is for educational purposes only and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice.