The American Association of Diabetes Educators has issued a formal position statement and set of recommendations urging diabetes educators to proactively address obesity as a means of preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes, managing complications for those who already have the disease, and creating a savings for the overall health care system…
Deborah Fillman, MS, RD, LD, CDE, AADE president, said in a press release, “Obesity and Type 2 diabetes are linked in several ways… Obesity is involved in the pathologic process that culminates in the development of Type 2 diabetes as well as a serious risk factor for the cardiovascular disorders that frequently affect persons with diabetes.”
The AADE guidelines state that it is important for the diabetes educator to address obesity as a comorbidity of diabetes and identify key strategies for educators to adopt.
Educating patients to achieve and maintain a healthy weight should be a priority for all diabetes programs. Diabetes educators should address obesity as primary prevention in diabetes and secondary prevention in diabetes self-management because obesity is associated with an increased risk for chronic disorders in addition to diabetes, especially CV disease.
At both the individual and the community level, diabetes educators should play an important role by teaching the following strategies for obesity prevention and control of obesity:
- Promote the availability of affordable, healthy food and beverages.
- Support healthy food and beverage choices.
- Encourage physical activity or limit sedentary activity among people of all ages.
- Create safe communities that support physical activity.
- Organize change at the community level.
- Work with health insurers and third party payors to recognize the link between obesity and other chronic illnesses, and the need for lifestyle interventions.
- Advocate for diabetes educators to be reimbursed for self-management education and training of people with obesity at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes.
The goal of the statement and guidelines is to promote “relatively easy steps now to avoid more difficult circumstances in the future,” according to AADE chief science and practice officer Karen Fitzner, PhD.
Recent estimates indicate that the prevalence of obesity in 2010 was 35% in white men, 36% in white women, 33% in black men and 55% in black women. Compared with 2000, there were 9.3 million more obese adults aged 20 to 74 years in 2010. The prevalence has also increased in children and adolescents.
Research has shown that obesity presents a significant cost to the health care system, much of which is covered by the public sector, according to the statement.
“First and foremost, it is easier and more effective to manage diabetes by not getting it,” Fitzner said in the release. “If a person does have Type 2 diabetes, many of the complications and threats to overall health can be avoided by proactively addressing related health issues such as obesity.”
“We also need to include the opportunity to reach the entire family. Diabetes needs to be family centric, so the interventions by diabetes educators will affect family members who can impact obesity and the development of Type 2 in family members since this is a genetic problem. Just think of our children, if we can change eating habits with parents it will have a trickle-down effect on our children. Primary prevention must be the cornerstone today to control the epidemic of diabetes. Diabetes Educators are the key providers who can really impact this disease.”