NUTRITION NETWORK AND EAT BETTER SOUTH AFRICA TEAM UP FOR #KNOWYOURNUMBER CAMPAIGN FOR WORLD DIABETES DAY
Early on Friday morning, the Nutrition Network (NN) and Eat Better South Africa (EBSA) teams were gearing up to kick off their #KnowYourNumber campaign in the small, Western Cape under-resourced community of Dunoon. By 8am the lines outside the Dunoon Community Clinic were around the block, with hundreds of eager community members volunteering to have their blood glucose levels checked as part of an awareness and education campaign in honour of World Diabetes Day, celebrated every year in November.
The aim of the #KnowYourNumber campaign is to educate communities about diabetes, how it is caused and how it is diagnosed. Testing your blood glucose levels is a reliable way to check whether your pancreas is producing enough insulin to manage the food you are consuming. Through a simple finger prick facilitated by volunteer nurses, participants were able to see whether their blood glucose levels are within the normal range or not. An elevated blood glucose reading, consistent with pre-diabetes or diabetes levels, would indicate that the body is not functioning properly and measures need to be taken to reverse or manage the problem.
Participants were eager to find out their blood glucose numbers, and once tested, fascinated to understand what the numbers meant. The results from the day were astounding, with over 175 people tested, 70% had prediabetic readings of 5.6 – 5.9 mmol/L, 15% were within the normal reading range of <5.6 mmol/L, 10% tested below the normal range and 5% had a very high range of 12.8, 19.1 and our highest of the day 28.9 mmol/L. There was a staggering number of surprise cases where participants who considered themselves to be healthy, had readings indicating pre-diabetes or full-blown diabetes. These participants were immediately referred to the clinic doctors and nurses for further testing.
These results further reinforce the need for the world we are doing at NN & EBSA, and for the need for greater awareness and education around the link between poor diet and type 2 diabetes.
NN & EBSA teams handed out informative pamphlets in multiple African languages, detailing the impact that diet and lifestyle can have on your blood glucose levels. The pamphlets demonstrated how a poor diet, high in refined carbohydrates and sugars, coupled with other risk factors such as sedentary lifestyle, obesity, diabetes in the family etc, can lead to the onset of diabetes. The pamphlets provided information on the types of foods that are best avoided, and those which form part of a healthy diet – all taking into consideration the economic constraints of the community.
At the end of the day, the #KnowYourNumber campaign was an overwhelming success, with hundreds of people now informed about the role diet plays in type 2 diabetes. We hope that these participants will return home, armed with their educational pamphlets, and spread awareness about the importance of healthy eating.
EBSA is the primary beneficiary of the NN, the majority of proceeds from all of our courses goes towards funding initiatives like this one in under-resourced communities. We thank all of our members for their support in helping to make days like today possible.