NEW YORK, NY—As families gather to celebrate the holiday season, maintaining healthy habits and managing chronic conditions such as diabetes can become challenging. To help address these concerns, EmblemHealth, one of the nation's largest nonprofit health insurers, joined with advocacy groups and local leaders to host Managing and Preventing Diabetes — An Educational Public Webinar. EmblemHealth’s webinar commemorated Diabetes Awareness Month and empowered New Yorkers to make healthier decisions when navigating the holidays.
“Maintaining a healthy diet, proper exercise, and routine visits with your doctors during the holidays can be difficult for some. But for those with diabetes and prediabetes, it is critical,” said Beth Leonard, EmblemHealth’s Chief Corporate Affairs Officer. “More awareness and education are needed to support people with diabetes in New York. At EmblemHealth, we believe having open discussions with medical experts, leaders, and advocates is a major part of caring for our communities and saving lives.”
AdvantageCare Physicians (ACPNY) Vice President of Clinical Education Dr. Nicole Thomas-Sealey, who hosted the webinar, described how important it is for people with diabetes to get their flu and COVID vaccinations as we are in the season of influenza on top of an active COVID pandemic. According to Dr. Thomas-Sealey, people with diabetes are more vulnerable to infection and have the highest rates of complications from these infections.
Clinical experts from ACPNY and EmblemHealth Neighborhood Care (EHNC) also answered common questions and concerns about diabetes, including symptoms, risk factors, care management, treatment options, coping techniques, and prevention. In addition, healthy tips diabetics and prediabetics can use during the holiday season were provided and included:
- Plan and find balance—use the 80/20 rule (80 percent healthy eating/ 20 percent ‘cheat’ foods) in holiday diets. Stay hydrated, get eight hours of sleep daily, and bring healthy snacks to holiday gatherings.
- Gamify it: Suggest healthy challenges like weight loss competitions with family and friends during get-togethers.
- Stay physical: Get moving in the morning, try chair yoga, and take a walk after meals.
- Regularly monitor your blood sugar levels.
The webinar also featured panelist insights from JDRF, the leading global type 1 diabetes research and advocacy organization, which highlighted screenings, support, current research, and efforts to find cures. New York City Council Member and Council Committee on Health Chair Lynn Schulman (Queens District 29: Rego Park, Forest Hills, Kew Gardens, and Richmond Hill) opened the discussion to address health disparities among specific populations and legislative and New York City resources to help avoid, understand, and manage diabetes.
“Diabetes continues to be a leading cause of death among New Yorkers, leaving a disproportionate impact on our Black, Latino, Asian, and low-income communities,” said NYC Councilmember Schulman. “Prevention is key— being empowered to make healthy diet and exercise choices and consulting with health professionals is how our city can stay healthy this festive season and into the future. My office is proud to collaborate with EmblemHealth to inform the public about the best ways to prevent and manage diabetes. Together, we seek to eliminate health disparities by promoting awareness and education.”
Data from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene has shown that diabetes is most prevalent among certain ethnic and racial groups, notably Hispanic, Black, and Asian New Yorkers. Their findings also show that diabetes disproportionately affects neighborhoods in the city with the highest levels of poverty. Additionally, more than 1 in 10 Americans are living with diabetes, with an estimated 1.7 million New Yorkers (11%) having diabetes. The percentage of adults in New York State who have diabetes has increased from 6.3% in 2000 to 11% in 2018, and 4.5 million New Yorkers have prediabetes.
"Keeping close tabs on one's health or health condition is always challenging, but there is an added stress during this season, especially for those at risk of or with diabetes," said Dr. Thomas-Sealey. "Public health professionals need to communicate with our patients regularly to provide proper care and equip them with the latest information to ensure healthier outcomes not just now but throughout their lives. Conversations like these should not stop here. They should be ongoing. Tapping into each other’s experience, knowledge, and expertise can hopefully make diabetes a thing of the past, so let’s continue the public dialogue.”
In living the mission of creating healthier futures for our communities, EmblemHealth also held an MPV town hall this summer to provide New Yorkers with education and support around stigmas, vaccinations, and prevention.
To learn more about diabetes, risk factors, care management, and treatment, visit our diabetes education campaign HERE.
Watch EmblemHealth’s diabetes prevention webinar below.