Did you know that an estimated 7 million Americans have diabetes – and don’t know it?
Or that 79 million people are pre-diabetic?
According to the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), total health care for the treatment of diabetes cost the nation $174 billion each year. Diabetes also goes hand-in-hand with heart disease – diabetic adults are 2 to 4 times more likely to have a stroke or die from heart disease. And 67 percent of diabetics have high blood pressure or use prescription medications to treat hypertension.
5 Ways Employers Can Help
The good news is that type 2 diabetes can be prevented (or at least delayed) through lifestyle changes, such as losing weight. Since March 25 is American Diabetes Association Alert Day®, it’s a great time to help employees understand their risk for developing type 2 diabetes – and learn how to prevent it.
1. Create a Diabetes Alert Challenge.
Many Limeade clients offer this simple but effective challenge. Employees complete this brief quiz to assess their diabetes risk and earn rewards for completion.
2. Host an on-site diabetes screening.
Offer blood glucose testing at the office. This could be part of a larger “Know Your Numbers” event that also checks cholesterol levels and blood pressure. Make it easy for employees to attend by holding screenings at multiple times and locations – and of course, reward participation with points, cash, health premium discounts or gift cards.
3. Start a weight loss group or challenge.
According to the NDEP, people who are overweight can lower their risk for type 2 diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight. An employer-sponsored weight loss group or challenge can keep people motivated by making the process social and competitive.
4. Help people fit fitness in.
At least 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise five days a week is key to preventing diabetes. So put together a lunchtime walking or running club or think about starting a recreational sports league where employees can square off on the basketball court or soccer field. If your employees prefer to go it alone, offer activity trackers like a Fitbit and launch a challenge to see who takes the most steps in a month.
5. Encourage smart snacking.
Healthy eating is one of the most effective ways to lower the risk of diabetes, so do what you can to help employees eat well at the office. If there are vending machines, swap out some of the chips and candy for nuts, dried fruit and trail mix. Make these options affordable and put them at eye level. And when ordering food for meetings, opt for fruits, veggies and nuts instead of cookies and pizza.
For more ideas, visit Diabetes.org to download American Diabetes Association Alert Day® fact sheets, risk tests, posters and more.