Diabetes Forum provides health information on broad range of topics

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World Diabetes Day provided the ideal opportunity for the Cypress Diabetes Partners to share healthy living information during Swift Current's ninth annual Diabetes Forum.

Hosted at the Pharmasave Gathering Room, the day long event attracted a strong turnout of individuals to learn more about diabetes topics and overall health information.

The Diabetes Forum on Nov. 14 provided participants a chance to meet with health educators and gain information pertaining to diabetes, high blood pressure, self-management, limb assessment, low blood sugar, and basic nutrition.  Each station at the forum was interactive, and had an educator available to provide information answer questions or concerns regarding the station.

“This year, the focus was a little bit more on different aspects of nutrition,” explained Sue Johnston, a Cypress Health Region health educator specializing in diabetes. “Last year, we had more information on foods with carbohydrates and we focused on carbohydrates because for people with diabetes that’s a fairly significant aspect for portion control. This year, they went with the 'Rethink the Drink' station, because of how much sugar is in a lot of the drinks. People think that juice is a really healthy choice when it’s actually just sugar water. Same with a lot of the power drinks, Gatorade and all of those. I’m not knocking the company itself, but a lot of that is just full of sugar. So young kids that are drinking it are just drinking straight sugar and it’s not very healthy for them. Water is the best choice for rehydration. I don’t know if we’ve really changed a whole lot from last year, but we added a little bit more interaction.”

Johnston explains that the evaluations that attendants had filled out from last year added to this year's forum.

“Last year, the evaluations that the dieticians came across had some comments like wanting information on daily stuff, and so fluid is definitely daily. Plus we came up with the information on salt, because salt and blood pressure are very linked. So that’s why we came up with a different one for nutrition just because of some of the requests that came through. The other ones, blood pressure is a big issue for people with diabetes, so we usually have that. It’s actually important for everybody.”

The Diabetes Forum is not just for those who are diagnosed with diabetes, and misconceptions about the forum hinder the benefit towards the public.

“When we have the diabetes forum, it’s not just for people who have diabetes. We are hoping to promote awareness about diabetes. In all essence, awareness and diabetes itself. A lot of people think that when you’re diagnosed with diabetes, you’re on a special diet. You’re not. You’re just on a diet that is a well balanced diet. There are things that we would encourage people to avoid like the pop and straight sugars, but in all honesty, we would encourage anybody to avoid pop and straight sugars. It’s not really healthy for anybody.”

Johnston’s message to the public is one of encouragement to a better understanding of our health.

“We would encourage anybody to come to the Forums, because everyone can benefit from having their blood pressure checked, everyone can benefit from learning more about self-management, of any kind of chronic disease, about diabetes and pre-diabetes.”

This year's event also marked the second year they have partnered with Pharmasave to present the Diabetes Forum.

“We used to do it as a Saturday function where we’d bring in speakers and have a lunch and a registration and everything like that. Then it got to the point where we needed to come up with different ideas for speakers, some different thoughts, and we decided on this format. It was very successful last year. We had over 70 people last year, so we decided to do the same thing this year. The goal was to have as many people as last year, if not more.”

Data from the Canadian Diabetes Association highlights that more than three million Canadians have diabetes and a staggering six million are living with pre diabetes.

Organizations: Diabetes Forum, Cypress Diabetes Partners, Pharmasave Canadian Diabetes Association

Geographic location: Swift Current

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