Diabetes symposium this weekend

Published 9:53 pm Tuesday, November 1, 2016

A diabetes symposium in Suffolk this weekend will kick off National Diabetes Awareness Month.

The Virginia Faith Based Outreach Initiative is putting on the event, with partnerships from the American Diabetes Association and others. It is partly funded by the Obici Healthcare Foundation.

Bertha Wigfall of the Virginia Faith Based Outreach Initiative said everyone can benefit from the event, but especially those who have diabetes, pre-diabetes, are at risk for diabetes, or live with someone who does.

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“I think they will be able to get a vast knowledge of disease and how they’re related to diabetes,” Wigfall said, noting that kidney disease and heart disease are associated with diabetes, but not everyone knows that. “A lot of times people have diabetes and they don’t associate it with other diseases. I just want people to know these things are out there.”

The event will share information on the causes, risk factors and prevention of diabetes and about pre-diabetes, living with diabetes and healthy eating and exercise.

The Virginia Faith Based Outreach Initiative is a local nonprofit started in 2009 with five churches, aiming to help end health disparities in Western Tidewater.

“We hope the community takes advantage of this wonderful opportunity to get great health and wellness information during American Diabetes Month,” said Deanie Eldridge, interim region vice president and area executive director for the American Diabetes Association.

The special guest speaker will be Fabiola Gaines, author of “The New Soul Food Cook Book.” She will conduct a food demonstration and book signing followed by a healthy lunch.

Eldridge said Gaines’ book is a guide to preparing beloved foods in a healthier manner. The association has distributed numerous copies of it over the years as a recommended guide, she said.

Wigfall said Gaines’ presentation will change the way people think about food.

“Eating is a mindset,” she said. “It will start getting people to think about what they’re doing.”

Zumba demonstrations, screenings of A1C (a major indicator for diabetes diagnosis and management) and nutritional information will take place. Other health services and information, including flu shots and HIV/AIDS testing, will also be on site. A panel consisting of a cardiologist, oncologist, nutritionist and more will share information and answer questions.

The event will take place at the Salvation Army, 400 Bank St., from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday.

The event is free, but the lunch costs $7. Call 934-7710 for more information.