By Octavia Chamber
Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services 

Programs for managing type 2 diabetes


Type 2 diabetes is one of the most common and costly chronic diseases in the United States. Type 2 diabetes is a disease that occurs when your blood glucose (or blood sugar) is abnormally high. Diabetes is often referred to as “a touch of sugar” or “the sugar,” however having diabetes is far from sweet. Diabetes is a serious condition that can have a major impact on overall health and quality of life. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, non-traumatic lower-limb amputations, and new cases of blindness among adults. Diabetes is also a major risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the number of U.S. adults with diagnosed diabetes nearly quadrupled from 1980 through 2014. If the current trend continues, as many as one out of every three U.S. adults could have diabetes by 2050. Type 2 diabetes accounts for approximately 90 percent to 95 percent of diagnosed diabetes in U.S. adults.

While type 2 diabetes is an increasingly common illness, it is also largely preventable. Type 2 diabetes is often considered a lifestyle disease because it can be reversed or prevented through healthy lifestyle choices, such as increased physical activity, eating a healthier diet, limiting sedentary behaviors, and maintaining a healthy weight. The risk of developing diabetes increases with age; therefore many seniors have or will develop type 2 diabetes.

With proper self-management, it is very possible for people with type 2 diabetes to live a healthy life. There are several self-management programs available in Alaska to help people manage chronic diseases, such as the Diabetes Empowerment Education Program (DEEP) and the Chronic Disease Self-Management Program (CDSMP) known as Living Well Alaska.

Another program that is available to Alaskans with type 2 diabetes is the Stanford Diabetes Self-Management Program, a six-week group workshop. The workshop takes place once a week for 2.5 hours, and is facilitated by two trained leaders. The program is designed to help people understand how diabetes affects their lives. The workshop is highly participative – mutual support and success builds the participants’ confidence in their ability to lead or maintain active and fulfilling lives.

The workshop teaches the skills needed for day-to-day self-management of diabetes, with the goal of improving health status, healthy behaviors and self-efficacy, while also reducing healthcare costs. The workshop helps participants deal with the symptoms of diabetes, including fatigue, pain and emotional issues, teaching coping strategies and skills to help them learn how to eat and sleep better.

Workshop topics cover the diabetes disease process, treatment options, blood glucose monitoring and control, and how to prevent complications. Participants learn about action planning and problem solving to manage lifestyle behaviors and emotionally cope with living with diabetes.

The program was originally developed in Spanish. Due to the success of the program, it was translated into English and tested in a randomized, controlled study. Researchers found that workshop participants had significant improvements in healthy eating, depression, communication with healthcare providers, and symptoms of hypoglycemia. The workshop is now offered extensively throughout the United States.

If you or someone you know has diabetes and would like to find a class near you, visit:

For more information about Stanford’s Diabetes Self-Management Program, visit

For more information about diabetes and diabetes risk factors, visit:

Octavia Chambers is a public health advisor for the Section of Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Alaska Dept. of Health and Social Services.


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