Our family and social environment have a lasting impact on how we live our lives. Whether good or bad, they influence our self-care behaviours and adherence to health habits. The theme of this years’ World Diabetes Day is “Family and Diabetes”. It sheds light on the significance of family support in the awareness, prevention, and management of diabetes.
Several scientific studies have noted the spectrum of family behaviours that impact commitment to self-care from non-supportive (e.g. unmotivated to make healthy diet changes) to supportive (e.g. ongoing emotional support). Diving deeper, they identified specific examples of successful family-based diabetes interventions including communication training, home cooking classes, and personalisation of family context (e.g. accounting for culture or religion).
Hongkongers could use more family-based diabetes-friendly health activities. Approximately one in ten Hongkongers have diabetes and about half of all cases are undiagnosed making lifestyle interventions even more important. In fact, a recent 2018 study by Sun Life Financial identified that only 67% of Hongkongers surveyed were aware that a diet high in carbohydrates or starch is a risk factor of diabetes onset. Despite this knowledge, only 38% were willing to change their diet to accommodate diabetic family members.
Despite the gap between knowledge and behavioural change, we can do a lot to introduce healthy eating habits. Habit formation is effective when made easy. It can also build confidence and courage to sustain habits especially when faced with challenges. What kind of activities can you explore? We identified two areas: Knowledge is Power! and Be Your Own Chef!
Knowledge is Power! Start with a Medical Health Screening
Knowing your level of risk before diabetes onset is crucial to its prevention. Most health screening plans take only 2 hours to complete and the results are ready in 7 days. Find yourself in the waiting room with not much to do? Why not take a 1-minute pre-diabetes quiz developed by the American Diabetes Association (https://doihaveprediabetes.org/take-the-risk-test/).
Be Your Own Chef! Create the Environment to Cook at Home
Hongkongers work…a lot. Dedicated to an average 50.1-hour work week, households spend about 66% of their average food budget eating out. To encourage smarter spending, self-empowerment towards good health, and greater control over ingredients, Hongkongers can take easy steps to create a beneficial cooking environment at home. These include:
· Create easy access to fresh and good quality vegetables and fruit. The better the quality, the less handling is needed
· Set aside 30-minutes once or twice a week to prep your vegetables and fruit into containers and put in the fridge
· Partner with a coach or nutritionist to develop your very own menu! Nutrition professionals are happy to visit homes to teach the way cooking works for you
Interested to learn more? Get in touch with our Lyfegreen Team to help you Eat Fresh! Feel Fresh!
Baig, A.A, Amanda Benitez, A, & Burnet, D.L. Family interventions to improve diabetes outcomes for adults. Ann N Y Acad Sci. 2015 September; 1353(1): 89–112.
Maintaining healthy lifestyle key to preventing diabetes (2016). (http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/201604/07/P201604070252.htm)
Mayberry, L.S. & Osborn, Y.C. Family Support, Medication Adherence, and Glycemic Control Among Adults With Type 2 Diabetes. Diabetes Care 35:1239–1245, 2012
Results of the 2014/15 Household Expenditure Survey (2016), Census and Statistics Department, Hong Kong
Sun Life Financial Asia Diabetes Awareness Study (2018), Sun Life Financial
Will Hong Kong's problem with long working hours ever come to an end? (2018), South China Morning Post