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Diabetes programme hailed huge success

Celebrating improvement: participants at the Diabetes Reversal Programme enjoyed dinner together (Photograph by Sarah Lagan)

Losing weight is not easy if you hate exercise and love cake.

However, members of Bermuda’s successful Diabetes Reversal Programme have discovered that anything is possible with the right guidance and encouragement.

About 30 participants got together for a celebration dinner last month to mark one year in the programme, which is designed to help people with type 2 diabetes to eat better and increase physical activity.

They shared their stories and explained how they conquered personal challenges to improve their health.

One woman revealed she detested exercise and loved cake, but said she found a way to make small changes that gave big results.

She said: “I started to lose weight, which was one of my goals, and then I learnt over the years what I could eat and when. If I’m going to exercise, that’s when I’ll eat my carbs.”

Another woman said that when she found out she had diabetes she believed it was a “death sentence”, but thanks to the programme, her health had improved.

One elderly woman said she had once been told by a doctor that she would never lose weight, but she lost 25lbs and her blood sugar levels then fell.

She told guests at the dinner: “It has made such a difference to my life.”

Bermuda has one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes in the Western world, with more than 13 per cent of the island’s adult population affected.

The reversal programme is a joint effort by insurance firm Argus, diabetes specialist David Cavan, whose book the programme is based on, and Stanley James of Premier Health and Wellness.

Insurance firm BF&M also came on board during the year.

The programme includes a consultation with Dr Cavan, a six-week lifestyle management course, lifestyle group updates, follow-ups with the diabetes specialist and a final assessment.

The majority of members said they had also been able to cut the amount of medication they took.

Sara McKittrick, diabetes educator with the Bermuda Diabetes Association, said she had never seen anything like the programme in more than 20 years of working in Bermuda.

Ms McKittrick said: “Knowledge is power. We know it is not easy but it is possible. This programme is very real, it is sustainable and gives us real hope that you can make that choice, and I’m here to support you.

“Diabetes is not diabetes month or week, it is long standing for many of you.”

Dr James asked the group how many people had lost weight and lowered blood ugar levels, and most hands went up.

He said: “We were able to take control of something that was taking control of you.

“Looking around, there may be someone who avoided heading towards an amputation, having a stroke or delaying or avoiding getting on dialysis. Someone will have extended their life expectancy.”

Dr Cavan spoke to the guests on a Skype call from Britain.

He said: “It’s a great adventure we have been through. I have been extremely encouraged by how well so many people have done. It is very heart-warming. Stick with it.

“In real life there are spanners in the works, Rome wasn’t built in a day. Don’t be discouraged if things go wrong, that is why we are here to provide support.”

For more information about the Diabetes Reversal Programme, contact Premier Health and Wellness Centre on 292-5111 or e-mail drp@premierhealth.bm