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County kicks off employee wellness program
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Liberty County employees sat down Friday for their latest Lunch and Learn opportunity as part of the county’s 2010 health and wellness program, L.I.V.E. Well (Liberty Inspires Vibrant Employees). Dr. Niskar Eskandar of the Low Country Medical Clinic shared a presentation on diabetes.
“Diabetes is simply high sugar,” Eskandar said to kick off his presentation, which plainly explained the causes, symptoms, treatment and management of diabetes. He said diabetes is not just a problem with the pancreas, which produces insulin, but with many parts of the body.
Whether due to a lack of insulin or insulin that’s not working, diabetes is a leading cause of kidney failure in the Unites States and affects at least 20 million people. Eskandar said as many as 6 million people may be undiagnosed, as well. As many as 54 million adults are estimated to have metabolic syndrome, which is the term used to describe a pre-diabetic condition.
Of the two types of diabetes, type 2 insulin resistance is the one most commonly seen in adults. Children and young adults are the primary group to show type 1, an autoimmune disorder. Eskandar also pointed out that gestational diabetes, which can develop during pregnancy, makes women more likely to develop type 2 later in life.
The percentage of diabetes among the population increases with age, Eskandar said, along with traits such as obesity and physical inactivity. “Race is also important because there is a genetic component to diabetes.” Blacks, Asians, American Indians and native Alaskans are all considered to be at higher risk for developing diabetes than non-Hispanic whites, he said.
There are pronounced signs that one could be prediabetic or diabetic, the doctor said. “What do you need to look for? If you’re thirsty a lot and then urinating a lot, losing or gaining a lot of weight and dehydration.”
Dehydration occurs often because the body will pull water from cells to offset high sugar levels in the bloodstream, he said.
To help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, Eskandar suggested increasing physical activity to include 20 minutes of exercise a day, losing weight, eating more fiber and whole grains and making healthier food choices overall.
Laura Troutman, the county’s wellness program coordinator, said L.I.V.E. Well is the latest program in a series that began about four years ago. The wellness programs are funded by grants through the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia.
“We originally started with a ‘Biggest Loser’ program, and then did some less organized things, but it’s grown bigger and bigger every year,” Troutman said. After discussing ideas with employees, a program was created that allows employees to earn points by attending lunch sessions, volunteering, participating in health screenings and incorporating at least 30 minutes of daily activity into their
“We’re trying to potentially save someone’s life” through the program, she said.
Employees with the most points are eligible for incentives. Evelyn Jackson was the first-quarter winner, and she received a shirt and a Visa gift card for her work in the program.
In June, the county’s employees will have the opportunity to learn first aid and become CPR-certified, Troutman said. The effort not only earns them points but it helps the county if at least one member of each department can complete the training.
Though it’s still early, Troutman said employees have given positive feedback about L.I.V.E. Well. “They tell me, ‘We all know we should be healthy, but you really make us think about our overall wellness,’” she said.
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