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Plant City Observer Friday, Jul. 14, 2017 2 months ago

Free diabetes prevention program offered to residents

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The United Food Bank of Plant City is partnering with the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough to offer a free diabetes prevention program.
by: Breanne Williams Staff Writer

The United Food Bank of Plant City is hosting a diabetes prevention class to help residents reduce their risk of becoming diabetic.

It is a year-long program that, if successful, can help attendees reduce their risk by approximately half.

“It’s really, really important to try to prevent diabetes from becoming an issue because what happens is, if you do end up developing diabetes there are so many other symptoms that occur,” Gregory Champlin, a nutrition educator for the Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County, said. “You have the number one rates of amputation, you have peripheral neuropathy, you have gum disease, you have everything. Heart disease is actually the number one killer of diabetic patients.”

Prediabetes is when your blood sugar is higher than normal, but not yet high enough to be diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.

According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 86 million American adults, one in three, have prediabetes. Nine out of 10 of those adults are unaware they have it.

“I don't think people understand how debilitating diabetes is,” Champlin said. “It takes over their lives.”

Champlin said the government is pushing programs such as this in an effort to reduce the amount of diabetic Americans because it is very costly for insurance companies to insure it.

Years of bad eating habits, lack of physical activity and family history all play key roles in contributing to diabetes.

“Some of our clients come in and they say they actually need to sort their food because they’re diabetic,” Mary Heysek, the Executive Director of the United Food Bank of Plant City, said.  “So that’s what brought this partnership on. When they approached us we were completely open to hosting the program here.”

Champlin said the food bank was doing a lot for the Plant City community and thus made for a great partnership.

The food bank is offering multiple programs for members of the community outside of food donations. Haircuts, health literacy classes, flu shots, which are done by South Florida Baptist Hospital, Money Smart classes, which are put on by Regions Bank, a tobacco free class and more are all available.

It is also an access community liaison where people can sign up for food stamps and SNAP benefits. The food bank also recently opened a computer lab to help people with their resumes and job hunting.

The diabetes prevention program is just one of the free services it provides to the community. Private programs of the same nature can cost hundreds of dollars and many are not covered fully by insurance.

The first 16 classes are held weekly and then the class votes on the schedule for the rest of the year, with classes normally transitioning to bi-weekly and then monthly meetings. Twenty-four total classes will be offered.

Champlin said similar classes have had great success in the past with participants losing up to 30 and 40 pounds.

“We’re still enrolling,” Champlin said. “This was an introductory class so the program officially starts next week.”

To enroll, call (813) 307-8015 ext. 7111.

Breanne Williams is a staff writer for the Plant City Times and Observer. She joined in 2017 and covers all things community related. In her free time, she enjoys spending the day at Disney and has a 20-ounce cup of Starbucks coffee in her left hand at all times....

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