Wellness class arms employee to avert diabetes

By Ali V. Adams

Korinne Moore never thought in terms of “if” she would develop diabetes, only “when.”

“Diabetes is something I just thought I would have to deal with someday,” said Mrs. Moore, a Grants and Contract Specialist who has worked at UT Southwestern Medical Center for nearly three years. “Both of my parents developed diabetes, and I thought it was inevitable. My physician has monitored my health, and it has gradually moved down that path over the years.”

Dietitian and class participant
UTSW Dietitian Regina Bonnette (left) talks to Korinne Moore about healthy food choices as part of a diabetes prevention program for UT Southwestern employees that Mrs. Moore recently completed.

Hoping to learn more about the disease, Mrs. Moore took a new Diabetes Prevention Class offered to UT Southwestern employees through the Employee Wellness Program. Instructed by UTSW Diabetes Educator and Dietitian Regina Bonnette, the 12-session class helps participants enact healthy lifestyle changes, elevate activity levels, and set healthy goals.

“For people who have been told they have prediabetes, if they do not have any lifestyle intervention, such as moving more or making better food choices, 70 percent will develop diabetes in five years,” Ms. Bonnette said. “The good news is that multiple studies have shown that small changes – like losing 7 percent of body weight or walking 150 minutes per week – are enough to prevent diabetes.”

On the first day of class, participants took an A1C test, which gives a three-month average of a person’s blood sugar level and helps predict risk of diabetes. That initial test was an eye-opener for Mrs. Moore.

“I’ve taken the A1C test before, but never understood it as thoroughly as I did because of what I learned in the class,” Mrs. Moore said. “Learning what the numbers meant helped me connect the dots – everything you eat can be a consequence.”

Mrs. Moore absorbed the information she learned in class. She began to carefully plan her meals, exercise more, read food labels, and find substitutions for the foods she normally would have eaten without question.

“I was so psyched about going to the class,” Mrs. Moore said. “I didn’t want to miss a session for fear I would miss out on some new information. Everything that was taught was personal, current, real, and useful.”

Many employees found success through the class. At the start of the program, four employees weren’t exercising at all. By the end, every participant was actively exercising, with an increasing number of employees reporting light activity while they were at work. Of the 18 people who completed the program, three went from diabetes to prediabetes, two from prediabetes to normal, and one from diabetes to normal. The average drop in A1C levels for the group was 9 percent.

“I appreciate diabetes so much more and take it more seriously. I never thought of it as something that could be prevented,” Mrs. Moore said. “A true benefit of working here is that we have access to the latest information from the top people in their field. I thank UT Southwestern for providing this class at no charge to employees.”

The next Diabetes Prevention Class will begin Feb. 5 and will be held in the Paul M. Bass Administrative and Clinical Center during the lunch hour.

To enroll in the program or to get more information, email employeewellness.program@utsouthwestern.edu