| 03.17.2018

When students are informed about diabetes, they can reduce the risk of developing it


As we transition from home to college, the experience is one of many new beginnings.

During this time, we break from familial routines and establish independence. We no longer have parents and elders around to provide guidance and limitations on our lifestyle choices. It”s common for students who transition from home to college to put on a couple pounds.

Nanci Paz Peer Health Educator

Nanci Paz
Peer Health Educator

As we get ready for summer vacation, we face even more potential new routines and patterns. Regardless of the situation, it is important to listen to your body”s needs. Is it tired, full, hungry, sore or in pain?

It can be easy to develop unhealthy eating behaviors, but adding on pounds could lead to a much bigger problem. Individuals who are overweight are at a higher risk of Type 2 diabetes.

According to the World Health Organization, someone in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes every 23 seconds and 350 million people worldwide have diabetes. This number is likely to more than double in the next 20 years. Scary, isn”t it?

So what is diabetes? There are three different types – Type 1, Type 2   and gestational. With Type 1 diabetes, the pancreas does not produce insulin or does not produce enough. Type 2 diabetes usually begins with insulin resistance, or an individual doesn”t produce enough insulin to maintain a normal glucose level. Gestational diabetes can develop when a woman is pregnant and goes away after the baby is born. Overweight or obese women have a higher chance of gestational diabetes.

Why should we care? A study done by the American Diabetes Association in 2008 on 83,070 students from different colleges indicated that 23.3 percent of the sample did not exercise, 14.3 percent exercised only once a week, 16.9 percent exercised two days a week and 16.8 percent exercised three days a week. In addition, 34.1 percent indicated they were slightly overweight and 4.1 percent reported being very overweight.

It is particularly important to talk to college students about this, because it has been found that 70 percent of individuals in this population tend to gain weight their first year of school. This is due to engaging in poor nutritional practices,  and frequently leading sedentary lives. Students who are at risk as well as those who are not overweight or obese could benefit from diabetes education at an early age.

Living a healthy lifestyle and adapting healthy habits such as eating healthier foods, quitting or reducing tobacco use and increasing physical activity can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes. These healthy habits can significantly counter even strong genetic risks for Type 2 diabetes.

The University of Idaho has many resources available to help students stay active and develop healthy lifestyles. The Student Recreation Center (SRC) has great programs available for students and the community, offering classes such as yoga, Pilates and outdoors activities. Campus Dietitian Marissa Rudley, a registered and licensed dietitian, is available for nutrition counseling for all UI students. Whether you are interested in a one-time meeting or multiple sessions.

Stop by our Vandal Health Ed Resource Room in the SRC to talk to one of our peer health educators. We are there to answer questions and help guide you to the right resources.

Nanci Pazis a peer health educator with Vandal Health Education. She can be reached at vandalhealthed@uidaho.edu

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