PUBLISHED: 4:43 PM on Wednesday, August 13, 2008
Diabetes prevention class offered again in Juneau
JUNEAU - The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Lifestyle Balance Program will provide its sixth series of diabetes prevention classes starting Aug. 26 in Juneau. A similar series of classes will be offered in Sitka starting in September or October. Classes may also be offered in Haines/Klukwan and Kake if there's enough interest.

The classes are open to adults of Alaska Native or American Indian heritage who have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Since the 2006 start of the program, 56 Native students in Juneau have learned to make lifestyle changes that will help prevent or delay their progression to Type 2 diabetes.

Prediabetes places an individual at high risk for developing diabetes, and most people who have prediabetes don't know it. Some of the risk factors for prediabetes are having a parent, brother or sister who has diabetes; being physically inactive; having high blood pressure; or being a woman who had diabetes during a pregnancy or delivered a baby that weighed more than nine pounds.

The Lifestyle Balance Program offers interactive weekly class sessions where participants learn how to choose higher fiber/lower fat foods at the grocery store, how to put together a balanced meal and how to make time for physical activity every day. They also get to taste-test healthy recipes, learn problem-solving skills, learn how to make healthier choices at a restaurant and learn from others who have similar situations. The participants learn from each other and receive on-going support in their efforts to remain diabetes-free.

"Alaska Natives and American Indians have diabetes rates among the highest in the world," said SEARHC Diabetes Prevention Project Coordinator Rocky Plotnick. "The lifestyle changes this evidence-based, culturally appropriate curriculum addresses have been shown to reduce a participant's risk of diabetes by more than 50 percent."

The 16-week schedule will allow students to complete the program by the spring. Daytime and evening class hours will be available, but the schedule will be flexible to make it more convenient for the participants. The Juneau class will be in the SEARHC Administration Building classroom, 1046 Salmon Creek Lane. Details on the Sitka, Haines/Klukwan and Kake classes will be made available at a future date.

To participate in these Lifestyle Balance Program classes, students must be at least 18 years old, be of Alaska Native or American Indian descent, be a resident of Juneau, have a clinical diagnosis of prediabetes (which needs a recent physical and bloodwork), and a willingness to participate in regular group education sessions and individual counseling sessions. For more information and to register for the Juneau classes, contact Kathy Dennis at 364-4453 or e-mail before Aug. 20.