Diabetes is on the rise in Crook County.
According to the most recent County Health Rankings, Crook County has one of the highest diabetes rates in Oregon, and it has been climbing steadily over the last six years.
To help combat the growing problem and help educate locals on how to live a healthier lifestyle, members of the Crook County Health Department are once again offering a diabetes prevention class, Prevent T2.
According to Kylie Loving, the diabetes prevention coordinator for Crook County, Prevent T2 is a program developed by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. It is based upon research that showed people with prediabetes who lost 5 to 7 percent of their body weight by making modest lifestyle changes reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. For persons older than 60, the risk is cut by 71 percent.
The class is intended for people with prediabetes or those who have other risk factors for type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes — higher-than-normal blood glucose (sugar) levels — are five to 15 times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than those with normal blood glucose levels. Many people with prediabetes can be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within five years.
Loving offered several explanations for why Crook County is seeing an increase in diabetes.
"It may be due in part to our aging population. Individuals over the age of 65 are at a higher risk for diabetes, and its precursor, prediabetes," she stated. "Lack of physical activity is also another major risk factor — 19 percent of Crook County adults report getting zero leisure time physical activity."
In the Prevent T2 program, individuals work with a trained lifestyle coach to learn how to eat healthy, add physical activity to their routine, manage stress, stay motivated and solve problems that can get in the way of healthy changes. Prevent T2 groups meet for a year — weekly for the first six months, then once or twice a month for the second six months — to maintain healthy lifestyle changes.
Crook County Health Department first launched Prevent T2 in September. Participants of that group have finished the first six months and many have reached their weight-loss goals.
"The most valuable part of this class for me has been knowing that I have accountability to someone and that it is an extended period of time," said Sue Barnhouse, a current class participant. "The information presented in the class has been valuable and given me a reason to continue to make changes in my activity and eating habits that really do make a difference in how I feel."
The next Prevent T2 class is scheduled to start on May 25. Offered in partnership with St. Charles Health System, the new class will meet Wednesdays from 5:15 to 6:30 p.m. at the IronHorse Lodge community room.
The class will be led by Loving as well as Carlyn Young, a registered dietician at St. Charles Prineville. Both women are trained lifestyle coaches. The class is free and open to the public, and interested individuals are encouraged to come to the first class to learn more and sign up for the program.
To participate in the Prevent T2 program, a person must be 18 years of age or older, have a clinical diagnosis of pre-diabetes, or have risk factors. People are more likely to have prediabetes and type 2 diabetes if they are 45 years or older, are overweight, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, are physically active fewer than three times per week, or have been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds.
"Anyone who feels they might be at risk for type 2 diabetes can go to doihavediabetes.org and take a risk assessment," Loving said. "They can also talk to their doctor. If people are even just curious, they should come to our kick-off meeting May 25. This will be an opportunity for people to learn more about the program, meet the coaches and the other participants. They do not have to sign up prior to that day. If they can't make the 25th or have questions before then, they can always call me."