NOTE: The following is an excerpt from TeleVox’s Healthy World report, “Discussing Diabetes: The Essential Conversation That Could Change the Health of the Nation”, which examines the idea of technology-enabled between-visit engagement to help patients with the prevention and management of diabetes. Download it HERE!
What Discussing Diabetes shows quite clearly is that although not perfect, awareness of weight and its consequences for health is fairly widespread. What it also shows is that individuals who have been diagnosed with diabetes have a good idea what they need to do about it. They know they should manage their weight, have attempted multiple diets, understand the health implications, but still struggle to achieve their goals. This is not so much a question of education, but more one of motivation.
Comparing attitudes between those with diabetes and the general population shows this to be the case. For example:
Americans diagnosed with diabetes are also far more likely to have discussed their weight, their exercise habits and their eating habits with a doctor than those without diabetes.
People with diabetes are also more likely to have made an attempt to manage their weight than the general population. Almost every person diagnosed with diabetes who took part in Discussing Diabetes (96 percent) said they had tried to manage their weight or to diet at some point.
However, 78 percent were unsuccessful or only somewhat successful. In fact, serial dieting is far more prevalent among people with diabetes than among the general population: 63 percent have attempted to diet five times or more. One in eight (13 percent) have tried more than 20 times.
Participants in the Discussing Diabetes study were also candid about the reasons they had not managed to achieve their target weight. The biggest reason cited was failure to exercise enough, followed by not consuming enough healthy foods, not setting realistic goals, and cutting out too many things they liked.
The concern that people have about their own weight-related health issues also extends to their own children. Among parents with diabetes, 47 percent were worried about their children’s eating habits – the same number who were concerned about affording college, and significantly more than those who were worried about bullying. It was also nearly twice the number who were concerned about their children’s grades. A similar number (43 percent) worried about their child’s exercise habits, and 37 percent worried about their child becoming overweight.
Issues relating to weight and exercise were also areas where parents with diabetes felt they could do more for their children. Nearly half (47 percent) said they could do better in providing healthy food options, 37 percent said they could be better at encouraging their child to exercise, and 23 percent felt they could do more to help with their child’s weight. However, just under half (47 percent) also said they could do better at having open communication on sensitive topics with their children.
Patients with diabetes know the risks associated with being overweight. They understand the impact on their families as well as themselves. Concerns for their children suggest that many know that it is harder to lose weight than to prevent weight gain in the first place — and many are also aware of the role of genetics in diabetes diagnosis. But repeated attempts to manage weight have led to repeated failures. The question then is how best to translate this awareness and desire for better health into successfully motivated weight management programs?