November was Diabetes Awareness Month. The Ponca Tribe of Nebraska observed this by hosting Diabetes Day events at all five service sites. Held in conjunction with the Elders Lunch Program, Diabetes Day events drew more than 100 people.
Dietician Sara Pfeifer, director of the Tribe’s Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI), was on-hand at each service area site to lead educational programming. Activities at the events included health checks, healthy cooking demos with indigenous foods, light exercise, and crafts.
The rate of diabetes in American Indian/Alaskan Natives is 17.6%, more than double the rate of the general U.S. population (CDC, 2014). Genetics and environmental factors play a role in the high rate. To combat the issue, Congress established the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) in 1997 to provide funds for diabetes prevention and treatment.
The two most effective preventative measures that individuals can take to prevent Type 2 Diabetes are to maintain a healthy weight and be physically active for 30 minutes for 5 days a week.
The Diabetes Program offers tribal members a variety of services and supplies including nutrition consultations, foot care, case management, meters and strips, and insulin syringes. Community-based activities such as exercise classes, cooking classes, and healthy lifestyle events are available to members. Current activities include walking groups in Norfolk and Niobrara to help members reach their exercise goals, and an upcoming support group in Omaha for members to make connections and receive support.
Pfeifer says it is “an honor to be able to be a part of a program that has made a very positive impact on the tribal members and their health. I sincerely enjoy being able to provide services that can help tribal members thrive with healthy lifestyles and let them know that they are not in it alone! “
For more information on diabetes prevention or to receive diabetes services, please contact Sara Pfeifer at 402-371-8834 or contact your service area office site.