The Dire Need For Diabetes Education

Kaiolu DeRamos (left, age 1) and Kaimana DeRamos (age 4) both have type 1 diabetes PHOTO COURTESY CHRISTINA DERAMOS

Kaiolu DeRamos (left, age 1) and Kaimana DeRamos (age 4) both have type 1 diabetes

More and more people in Hawaii continue to be afflicted with diabetes and are not aware of it. This is attributed in great part to our high percentage of Asian ethnic groups, Hawaiians and Polynesians, all of whom are at high risk for diabetes. ADA (American Diabetes Association) Alert Day Tuesday (March 24) is a wonderful opportunity to take the ADA Diabetes Risk Test along with millions of other Americans to find out if you are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The test is available online at and in an ADA risk test brochure. The evaluation will enable you to identify the proactive steps you should take to prevent diabetes from being a formidable challenge in your life. For example, diabetes sufferers could end up developing the likes of foot ulcers and other health complications to their limbs that could eventually urge various non healing wound treatment options for serious cases of Peripheral Arterial Disease, etc.

Keep in mind: If you have diabetes, it can be controlled, and if you don’t have diabetes, it can be prevented.

In a nutshell, with respect to the former, a healthy diet, exercise and weight loss (if overweight) education, and self-management training including nutritional counseling are critical to success.

With respect to the latter, “the best cure” remains doing everything possible to prevent it.

According to Dr. Laurie Tom, one of Hawaii’s leading endocrinologists, “Numerous studies around the world have demonstrated that eating healthy, regular exercise – at the very least walking five days a week for 30 minutes – and weight loss can help stop diabetes from being a part of your life.”

The key is learning as much as you can about the disease that is fast approaching epidemic proportions. Consider the following statistics: Every 19 seconds, someone in the United States discovers they have diabetes; in Hawaii each year, at least 5,000 people are diagnosed with diabetes; more than 570,000 children and adults have pre-diabetes or diabetes in Hawaii; complications from diabetes are responsible for 97 percent of all non-traumatic lower limb amputations; 61 percent of patients in Hawaii undergoing kidney dialysis treatment have a primary diagnosis of diabetes; by the year 2050, it is estimated that one in three Americans will have diabetes, and from a financial standpoint the cost of dealing with diabetes has spiraled out of control. In 2013, diabetes cost Hawaii more than $1.5 billion!

It is clear that now more than ever we need to do more to learn how to cope with and manage diabetes.

Permit me to recommend Take Control Of Your Diabetes (TCOYD) Conference and Health Fair April 25 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at Hawaii Convention Center. It is the best all-day education seminar on diabetes, especially for those who need a crash course on the subject. I personally can attest to the enormous amount of knowledge you’ll be able to acquire at this conference. The buzzwords are motivation, education and empowerment to help you and your loved ones learn to live with diabetes.

‘Hawaii schools need to be better equipped, educated and informed to be able to accommodate students in the system with … diabetes.’

Doctors, nurses, dietitians, pharmacists and educators will be on hand to offer presentations and answer questions. There also will be fun and entertaining fitness sessions, such as dancing to the kind of music that Uncle Tom Moffatt and I play on 107.9 Kool Gold, and participation by local celebrities Frank De Lima, Billy V, Mele Apana and Chef Mavro.

And the best thing about the conference is that it is very affordable. It only costs $10-$20, depending on when you register, and provisions are made for those who need financial aid. When you consider that it costs TCOYD between $150 and $175 per person to stage such an event, kudos are in order to organizers and sponsors for offsetting the registration fees.

Dr. Steve Edelman, founder of TCOYD and professor of medicine at University of California at San Diego, and local co-directors Tom and top diabetes educator Viola Genadio, are committed to ensuring that people know it is possible to live long, healthy, productive lives with diabetes. That’s their overarching objective and why this conference has been taking place in Hawaii for 16 straight years. Edelman, now 59, has been living with diabetes since he was 15.

For further information about the conference, go to or call (800) 998-2693 or (858) 755-5673.

From a positive perspective, after many years of children unable to receive diabetic care in a uniform and expeditious manner while in school, two bills to address this concern are moving through both houses of the Legislature.

One parent stated the problem quite eloquently during her testimony: “Hawaii schools need to be better equipped, educated and informed to be able to accommodate students in the system with … diabetes. The passage of legislation that will safeguard the needs of children will make life much easier for my family, my two boys ( both of whom have type 1 diabetes) and the many more out there who have had to fight the system for many years.”

Hopefully, with the ultimate passage of such legislation this session, we’ll no longer see problems such as parents required to give their children routine diabetes care at school, causing some of them to quit their job or take a part-time job; students denied admission to school because they have diabetes (a nurse or service not available to treat them); students not allowed to treat themselves for diabetes; or schools not able to handle a diabetic child because they lack knowledge or familiarity with the disease.

The proposed legislation will ensure that Hawaii Safe at School’s Diabetes Care Model Flow Chart will serve as a mandate that will provide schools and parents with a required policy and road map to follow, which will ameliorate many of the problems described above. The flow chart, which mirrors federal guidelines, came about as a result of ADA’s tremendous leadership efforts in collaboration with state Departments of Education and Health. Thanks to the support of some key legislators, the law will go a long way to end the discrimination and undue hardship on many parents and children who have diabetes.

Simply put, this new law will safeguard the safety, health and education of students with diabetes, their parents and guardians.