Health screenings and diabetes: You can’t change what you don’t know

A recent study suggests that 40 percent of the adult population in the United States will develop type 2 diabetes sometime during their life.1 The silver lining here is that diabetes can sometimes be prevented with lifestyle changes, and worksite health screenings are one effective way to catch the health issues that precede diabetes. How can an employer leverage health screenings to decrease the impact of this costly disease?

1. Screen employees.
Employees can’t make necessary lifestyle changes if they don’t know what they’re at risk for (or unfortunately, what disease they might already unknowingly have). A fasting glucose test is easy and inexpensive, and it is often included as part of a broader workplace biometric screening program.

In addition, the American Diabetes Association offers a Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test you can recommend employees take. If you work for a small business and can’t offer an on-site screening, this is a great first step in encouraging at-risk individuals to see their primary care doctor. Employees who understand their risk of certain diseases are also more likely to participate in wellness programs.

2. Tailor wellness programs.
As an employer, your wellness programs can help reduce the risk of your employees contracting major diseases. If diabetes is a concern at your organization, you can offer education relating to healthy eating and regular exercise. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ National Diabetes Education Program offers lesson plans as part of their Diabetes at Work website.

Why is promoting health through your wellness program so important? Diet and exercise that leads to a 5 to 7 percent weight loss can reduce diabetes incidence by 58 percent.2 You also can tailor any rewards or incentives accordingly to further encourage healthy behaviors.

Because of the increase in diabetes among the general population, worksite screenings are that much more important in helping with prevention. Worksite biometric screenings can help uncover undiagnosed cases of diabetes. Not only is this a major benefit to the employee, who can now make informed lifestyle changes, but also benefits your organization by potentially reducing future health care costs.

1Two out of every five Americans expected to develop type 2 diabetes during their lifetime. ScienceDaily. Available at: Accessed August 25, 2014.

2Diabetes at work website. Available at: Accessed August 25, 2014.

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