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A stalker in our midst kills

Diabetes is such a silent stalker, about 115,000 people in Mississippi do not even know they have the disease. Of the 346,000 Mississippians that have diabetes, most can control it with diet and exercise. Fear is the main factor that keeps people from seeking the medical care they need, says a diabetic nutrition expert, Jessica Issler.

Nationwide, about 9.7 million women have the disease and it is rapidly overtaking minority populations. “It is two to four times more prevalent in minorities than in white women,” states the Divabetic website at www.divabetic.org.

“We must bring awareness to the forefront,” says Issler, a charismatic nutritionist and fitness expert who provides tips for women to get healthy. She is a Core Team nutritionist and is a registered dietitian and certified diabetes educator. She specializes in motivating people living with, at risk of or affected by diabetes, to take care of their health.

Which is what Divabetics is all about. The “show” will be at the Audubon Tea Room on Magazine Street in New Orleans this Saturday, doors open at 12:30 PM and everything winds down at 4:00 PM. The best thing is that it is totally free for all who want to come. Novo Nordisk Presents: Divabetic – Makeover Your Diabetes, a free program that takes diabetes education out of the clinical setting and into a fun and supportive environment. With the help of nationally-known beauty and fashion experts and diabetes educators, the confidence-building program aims to motivate women to feel great about themselves and improve how they or their loved ones live with diabetes.

“It’s a Beauty Bazaar and Makeover for fashion and motivation,” Issler said in an interview last Friday. “It’s about lifting up woman and empowering them to make changes in their lives. It’s about educating them, because it can be a very scary thing and a lot confusing when first faced with diabetes. Which is why we must empower women to make those changes, to get them through the denial stage and on to the ABC basic facts about it. Men are invited, too,” she was quick to note.

Anyone at risk for it needs to participate because diabetes is preventable in most cases (90-95 percent in type 2 diabetes). “If only the diabetic had changed her lifestyle before the disease had gotten a foothold in her body,” Issler lamented. She added, if only women would make themselves more aware to their bodies then less women would have to contend with it when they are older.

“Our goal is to help women set their goals. This isn’t an all or nothing program. We want to teach them to not be afraid of their numbers like blood sugar levels and blood pressure levels. Once they understand the numbers then they’ll know how to contend with them.”

Type 2 diabetes is the stalker which can be defeated during the “pre-diabetic” stage, when you don’t feel “normal”, something “just isn’t right.” One third of the children born today will get diabetes. If lifestyles are not changed, then the risk of developing serious diabetes, and related complications, such as blindness, heart and blood vessel disease, stroke, kidney failure, amputations, and nerve damage, looms ever closer as the killer it is. The CDC states that diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S.

Issler said. “We hope this will encourage more people to search out diabetic resources like those at www.changingdiabetes-us.com.

You can register on line at www.divabetics.org or call the DIVA Hotline at 1-800-634-8888.