State launches di­a­betes preven­tion cam­paign

The ef­fort,which will run through June,alerts peo­ple to the risks of de­vel­op­ing the dis­ease

Honolulu Star-Advertiser - - LOCAL - By Su­san Es­soyan ses­soyan@starad­ver­

One out of ev­ery 2 adults in Hawaii is ei­ther pre­di­a­betic or di­a­betic, but many don’t know it.

Take ac­tor Peter To­gawa, who is fit and trim and a reg­u­lar on “Hawaii Five-0.” He never looked the part of a pre­di­a­betic and was sur­prised when a doc­tor told him his blood sugar was el­e­vated.

Co­me­dian Frank De Lima was more type­cast for the role when he tipped the scale at 320 pounds. He went on to de­velop type 2 di­a­betes, a chronic con­di­tion that can be dev­as­tat­ing when un­con­trolled.

Both en­ter­tain­ers have man­aged to re­verse course with diet and life­style changes, and they want oth­ers to do the same. They are team­ing up with the state Health Depart­ment on “Pre­vent Di­a­betes Hawaii,” a pub­lic cam­paign start­ing Mon­day to alert peo­ple of the in­creas­ing risk of de­vel­op­ing di­a­betes.

The goal is to get lo­cal res­i­dents to take a 30-sec­ond quiz on­line at Preven­tDi­a­ to assess their risk — and then take ac­tion. The web­site of­fers tips and re­sources for in­di­vid­ual life­style changes as well as na­tion­ally rec­og­nized Di­a­betes Preven­tion Pro­grams, of­fered at lo­cal health cen­ters and YMCAs. Health care providers can down­load ma­te­ri­als for wait­ing rooms and for use with pa­tients.

If not con­trolled, di­a­betes can lead to blind­ness, kid­ney fail­ure, stroke and heart dis­ease. It is the sev­enth lead­ing cause of death in Hawaii. But struc­tured be­hav­ior in­ter­ven­tions such as the Di­a­betes Preven­tion Pro­grams can cut the risk in half.

“The good news is that you can re­verse pre­di­a­betes with ba­sic life­style changes,” Dr. Vir­ginia Pressler, state health di­rec­tor, said Fri­day. “It’s very im­por­tant for peo­ple to get screened early and take ac­tion.”

The pub­lic­ity ef­fort will run through June on tele­vi­sion, in malls and at com­mu­nity health cen­ters. The ef­fort, in­clud­ing de­vel­op­ing and run­ning the web­site, print and tele­vi­sion ads, cost $350,000 and was funded by the state with sup­port from the U.S. Cen­ters for Dis­ease Con­trol.

Al­to­gether, 442,000 adults in Hawaii have pre­di­a­betes and 154,000 have di­a­betes, and those num­bers have been ris­ing, ac­cord­ing to the Health Depart­ment. Na­tive Hawai­ians, Pa­cific Is­landers and Filipinos have the high­est rates of di­a­betes in the is­lands, fol­lowed by peo­ple of Ja­panese an­ces­try. Nearly two-thirds of adults who have pre­di­a­betes don’t re­al­ize it.

“Our pop­u­la­tion is dis­pro­por­tion­ately af­fected by this dis­ease,” said Lola Irvin, ad­min­is­tra­tor of the Chronic Dis­ease Preven­tion and Health Pro­mo­tion Di­vi­sion. “You don’t have to be obese to be at risk. For the Asian pop­u­la­tion, weight gain is not as much of a driver for pre­di­a­betes.”

Be­cause To­gawa found out early that he was pre­di­a­betic, he could ward off the prob­lem with rel­a­tively mi­nor changes in diet and ex­er­cise.

“I was never over­weight, I was al­ways ac­tive,” he said at a news con­fer­ence an­nounc­ing the cam­paign. “My wife, she was the one that told me — ex­cuse me, she was the one that strongly en­cour­aged me — to go see a doc­tor when I hit the right age. And I was sur­prised to dis­cover that I had pre­di­a­betes.”

“I was happy that I did get it checked and I have it in con­trol. It’s been a life­style change and a life­long change,” he said. “Di­a­betes is se­ri­ous, but with ed­u­ca­tion and sup­port it doesn’t have to be scary. Any­body can take con­trol of their life.”

To­gawa was frus­trated at first when re­duc­ing por­tions and eat­ing health­ier op­tions didn’t do the trick. What worked for him was pick­ing up the pace with car­dio­vas­cu­lar ex­er­cise.

“What I dis­cov­ered that did work for me was not lift­ing weights; it was the car­dio,” he said. “I love golf, but in­stead of rid­ing, I walk. And when I walk, I walk at a brisk pace.”

The Health Depart­ment en­cour­ages peo­ple to “re­think their drink” and shift to wa­ter, and to eat whole grains, brown rice, veg­eta­bles and fruit rather than re­fined prod­ucts. But Pressler said peo­ple don’t need to give up ev­ery­thing they love to eat.

“To de­prive some­one of the things they en­joy the most is not ef­fec­tive,” she said. “It’s a mat­ter of serv­ing size and rec­og­niz­ing it’s a treat, rather than a daily sta­ple.”

De Lima grew up with fresh treats his mother baked ev­ery day for the fam­ily. As an adult he would eat “what­ever,” chow­ing down with his friends af­ter his evening com­edy shows. He was shocked when his doc­tor told him to lose 100 pounds. But he worked with friends to make it hap­pen, shift­ing his diet to things like fish, brown rice and veg­gies.

“I lost the weight, and I con­trolled my type 2 di­a­betes,” said De Lima, now 210 pounds. “I am off the med­i­ca­tion. The doc­tor is happy. … I am very, very happy that I am a part of this (cam­paign). I hope ev­ery­one takes an in­ter­est in it.

Spread the word to those that haven’t heard. Go take the test.”


Ac­tor Ray­ton La­may, left, wears a T-shirt bear­ing Frank De Lima’s like­ness as he talks to the co­me­dian in a Pre­vent Di­a­betes Hawaii tele­vi­sion com­mer­cial.

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