Diabetes is a growing problem in the United States of America. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 9.4% of the U.S. population has diabetes. Every year, 1.5 million Americans are diagnosed with diabetes.
Truck drivers are even more susceptible to diabetes. According to the CDC, truck drivers are at a 50% greater risk of diabetes than the national average.
Fortunately, there are ways truck drivers can reduce the risk of developing diabetes. Here are five diabetes prevention tips for truck drivers.
1. Check for signs of prediabetes
CDC reveals that 84 million U.S. adults have prediabetes. It means that every 1 out of 3 people have it, and 90% of them don’t even know that they have it.
The first step towards preventing diabetes is checking yourself for signs of prediabetes.
According to CDC, you are more likely to have prediabetes if you:
- Have obesity,
- Are 45 years or older,
- Have a family history of diabetes,
- Have or had gestational diabetes,
- Have polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS)
Here are some most common signs of prediabetes:
- Swollen or tender gums
- Dry, itchy skin
- Blurred vision
- Frequent urination
- Lack of energy
- Unexplained weight loss
If you are having one or more of these signs, you should immediately visit a doctor. This online quiz may also help in determining whether or not you are prediabetic.
2. Make healthy food choices
Since drivers are often on the road, they may eat more unhealthy food.
If you are prediabetic, you should do your cooking in advance and bring your balanced meal on duty. Here is the guide by the American Diabetes Association about what kind of a plate you should create for a safe meal.
If that’s not possible, order salads or grilled meat for an on-duty meal. Avoid cream, butter, and cheese. Also, keep nuts, fruits, and whole grain crackers with you to avoid running low on blood sugar levels when you are on the road.
Drink plenty of water, and avoid sugary and carbonated drinks at all cost.
Belinda Childs, a diabetes clinical nurse specialist, suggests making lifestyle changes like walking 30 minutes daily, losing 7-10% of the total body weight, and cutting on calories that can delay or prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.
Set a goal of getting moderate exercise for at least 30 minutes every day for five days a week. A combination of resistance training and aerobic exercise is believed to produce the best results for preventing diabetes.
4. Stop smoking
Smoking increases the risk of hypertension, which is a major factor in type 2 diabetes. There is also evidence that smoking leads to abdominal obesity, which is also a known risk factor for diabetes as it encourages cortisol—a hormone that increases blood sugar.
5. Enrolling in a diabetes prevention program
Managing prediabetes alone with no guidance can be complicated. You can register yourself in the National Diabetes Prevention Program initiated by CDC.
Many organizations like Healthy Trucking Association, Omada Health, and the American Association of Diabetes Educators (AADE) are also supporting the program. They are providing educational resources, tools, and content to help healthcare professionals and affectees combat Type 2 diabetes.
Natalie Blum, AADE’s manager of prevention, shared the Agency’s expectations for the program.
She said, “Our goal for the first year one of this grant is to enroll up to 300 drivers. We’re going to do some analysis, show the success of individuals that are going through this program, and we plan to increase each year the number of drivers. The long-term goal of this is to make a sustainable program by getting fleets on board with this program and offering it as a health and wellness program specific to their drivers.”
Blum also lays why this program is critical to fleets, “Fleets want to keep their drivers on board and are continuously trying to find various methods to ensure that they retain their drivers. Maybe offering a program like this, ensuring that their drivers feel like they’re supported and have various health programs out there to support them, might encourage a driver to stay with a company a little longer.”
Diabetes is common in U.S. truck drivers. However, the risk of diabetes can be reduced by following the tips mentioned in this article.
Motor carriers should also create awareness about diabetes, promote healthy habits, and initiate diabetes prevention programs.