Participants take part in a diabetes conference sponsored by the Akaka Falls Lions Club. - Photo: Courtesy of the Akaka Falls Lions Club

The Akaka Falls Lions Club is sponsoring an educational diabetes conference for the residents of Hawaiʻi Island on Oct. 17 at Hilo High School Cafeteria. The conference is designed to educate people about the inherent risks of Type 1 and Type 2 diabetes and the different preventive measures and treatments to help them live healthier, happier and more productive lives.

The World Health Organization reports that over 422 million people worldwide have diabetes. The majority of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders with diabetes have Type 2 diabetes, which occurs when the body develops resistance to insulin. A report from the John A. Burns School of Medicine at the University of Hawaiʻi indicated that Native Hawaiians have the second highest rate of Type 2 diabetes in the United States, and have an increased risk for new cases of diabetes due to high rates of obesity, glucose intolerance and insulin resistance syndrome.

Fact: 3,700 Type 2 cases occur each year amongst Hawaiʻi youths under the age of 20. The average age of a Native Hawaiian being diagnosed with diabetes is 42.9 years of age, the youngest of all minority groups in the state of Hawaiʻi. Native Hawaiians also have the highest diabetes mortality rate of any ethnic group in the state: 47 deaths per 100,000. That’s compared to seven for Caucasians, 19 for Japanese, 22 for Filipino and 32 for others.

The goal of the conference is to educate participants on the disease process of Diabetes Mellitus, the potential complications that can occur from the condition, and the treatments that can be done to control the disease, including dietary and lifestyle changes. With this initiative, we hope to improve the health and overall quality of life for Native Hawaiians, Pacific Islanders and all other ethnic groups residing in Hawaiʻi. The conference will provide an opportunity for these individuals to learn about the importance of managing this disease. Expectations are that each participant will walk out of the conference empowered to make wiser decisions about lifestyle interventions. Diabetes is a self-managed disease that requires an individual to take responsibility for their day-to-day care and can be controlled with education and motivation.

For more information about the conference, please email Michelle Soga, conference co-chair, at soga.michelle@gmail.com or go to the Akaka Falls Lions Club website at www.e-clubhouse.org/sites/akakafalls to register.