As of 2016, 7.7% of service industry workers in the US said they had been told by a doctor or nurse they had diabetes. This means that diabetes is more prevalent in our industry than in it is most others, for a variety of reasons that deserve more attention. Shift work, lower-incomes, race and ethnicity, and less access to health care are all interrelated factors that create risk factors of their own, and some are named below. One in ten adults in the world were living with diabetes in 2021—now is the time to learn about it, help those living with it, work to prevent its prevalence in the future.
There are three major types of diabetes:
Type 1: an autoimmune disorder that usually manifests in childhood; the immune system destroys cells that make insulin
Type 2: develops over time, usually in middle age; the body is unable to use insulin properly to regulate blood sugar
Gestational: occurs during pregnancy; the body does not use insulin properly
Diabetes can put people at risk for a number of serious health issues, including nerve damage, heart disease, limb injuries, vision issues, and an increased risk of serious COVID-19 symptoms and side effects. People are more likely to develop type 2 diabetes if they are older than 45, overweight, physically inactive, have a family history of type 2 diabetes, and have had gestational diabetes in the past. As mentioned before, systemic inequities cause significantly higher rates of diabetes (specifically type 2 and gestational) for people with lower incomes, people of color, and other underserved communities in the US.
Prediabetes is even more common, affecting over one third of Americans. You can stay informed about being prediabetic by getting your fasting blood sugar tested regularly, and don’t worry—both prediabetes and diabetes can be managed!
Here’s how you can help prevent and manage prediabetes and diabetes:
Consume fewer processed carbohydrates and foods with added sugar; consume more unprocessed foods and non-starchy vegetables—a healthy diet is the most powerful tool in managing prediabetes and diabetes
Get 30 minutes of exercise daily, five days a week
Monitor blood glucose levels regularly, and take any medication as prescribed
Get support from friends and family
Start small, because too much change at once can feel overwhelming and unsustainable
Together we can build a world that minimizes the risk of diabetes and helps those living with it. Consider what you can do within your hospitality workplace to address the risk factors workers face. Visit https://healthy-hospitality.org/ for resources to help you and your team stay physically and mentally healthy throughout the year.
American Diabetes Month | ADA
National Diabetes Month 2022 | NIDDK (nih.gov)
Diabetes Awareness Month 2021 | Everyday Health
World Diabetes Day | Access to Diabetes Care: If Not Now, When?
Percentage of adults in the U.S. who had been told by a doctor or nurse they had diabetes as of 2016, by occupation type | John Elfein, Statista