Free blood glucose screenings offered Jan. 23

Nearly 24 million children and adults in the United States, or nearly 8 percent of the population, have diabetes. While about 18 million have been diagnosed with diabetes, the rest may be unaware that they have the disease.

The School of Medicine is sponsoring free blood sugar screenings and information on diabetes Jan. 23 from 7 a.m.-5 p.m. The Health Happening event, held in the McDonnell Pediatric Research Building atrium, is free to all School of Medicine employees. The health fair’s focus on diabetes includes free blood glucose screenings by senior nursing students and medical assistants from the Goldfarb College of Nursing at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. No fasting is necessary prior to the screening.

In addition, Washington University physicians and diabetes educators from the Washington University Diabetes Center will be available to answer questions about the disease.

“We chose diabetes as the focus for this event because we wanted to address issues we know people struggle with and yet can manage with the right information and resources,” said Legail Chandler, director of human resources at the School of Medicine and a member of the Wellness Council. “It is a serious problem that can be detected with a simple test.”

There are several types of diabetes. Type 1 diabetes results from the body’s failure to produce insulin. Up to 10 percent of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 1 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes results from insulin resistance, a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin. Most Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have type 2 diabetes.

Pre-diabetes occurs when a person’s blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. There are 57 million Americans who have pre-diabetes.

The fair also will have information available on smoking and its effect on diabetes as well as on smoking cessation programs.

“Smoking greatly increases the risk of heart attacks for people with any type of diabetes,” said Walton Sumner II, M.D., associate professor of medicine and a member of the Wellness Council. “Fortunately, it is possible to avoid that extra risk by quitting smoking, and there are now many aids to help people quit smoking.”

Visitors to the event will be able to try out the new Your Health Snapshot Web site at six computer stations. Your Health Snapshot is an easy-to-use tool that offers personalized assessments of a person’s risk for diabetes, cancer, heart disease, stroke and osteoporosis. (See story on p. 1.)

Participants who turn in their health results form will also be entered into a drawing for one of three $300 MasterCard money cards.