Deborah Rhoades

Deborah Rhoades

November is Diabetes Awareness Month. The campaign, sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, is to bring awareness to the growing prevalence of diabetes, the health risks associated with it, raise research funds, and support people living with it.

The number of people in the U.S. diagnosed with diabetes has more than doubled in the past 20 years. It is the sixth leading cause of death in Maryland. There are disparities in how it affects Maryland’s citizens with racial and ethnic minorities, lower income, less education and various disabilities increasing risk.

The rapid increase in diabetes is cause for alarm. Diabetes lowers life expectancy and can lead to complications including heart disease and stroke, blindness, kidney disease, amputations and nerve damage. This is tragic, since diabetes can be prevented and effectively treated through diet, physical activity and medication.

Wondering if you are at risk? You can take a free screening for prediabetes at doihaveprediabetes.org.

Over a third of Maryland adults have prediabetes, which, if untreated, often leads to diabetes. Thankfully, multiple organizations in Frederick County have joined together to form the Frederick County Health Care Coalition in partnership with Frederick Health. The group’s No. 1 priority is diabetes prevention and management. To learn more about these programs in Frederick County, email prediabetes@Frederick.health.

The University of Maryland Extension offers Dining With Diabetes, an evidence-based program that teaches self-management skills about how to better manage your diabetes. According to Beverly Jackey, a licensed registered dietitian and the state leader for the program, DWD is taught nationwide by extension educators. The four-session program is unique because along with instruction and discussion about diabetes meal planning, cooking demonstrations are provided and participants have the opportunity to taste the recipes. Along with weekly resources, more than 30 tested, diabetes-friendly recipes are provided to participants, so they can make the recipes in their kitchen.

Extension educators partner with other organizations to offer DWD. In 2021, it was offered through the Frederick County 50+ Community Centers. Ideally, the program is taught in person, but since centers were closed, it was taught virtually with great success. If your organization is interested in learning more about the program or is interested in offering it at your site, contact extension educator Carrie Sorenson at 301-600-1598 or cjrsoren@umd.edu.

For more information about the University of Maryland Extension Frederick County Office, go to extension.umd.edu/locations/frederick-county.

Deborah Rhoades is a licensed Registered Dietitian, fellow of the Academy of Nutrition Dietetics, and extension educator in Family and Consumer Sciences.

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