SEARHC offers Lifestyle Balance classes in Juneau

August 14 2011

The SouthEast Alaska Regional Health Consortium (SEARHC) Lifestyle Balance Program will provide another series of diabetes prevention classes in Juneau. The free series of 16 classes will start on Tuesday, Sept. 6. The classes are open to adults of Alaska Native or American Indian heritage who have been diagnosed with prediabetes or who have had a higher-than-normal fasting blood glucose level. A person with prediabetes has a higher risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, and most people who have prediabetes don’t even know it. Some of the risk factors for prediabetes are:
  • Having a parent, brother or sister who has diabetes;
  • Being physically active fewer than 30 minutes three times a week;
  • Having high blood pressure; and
  • Being a woman who had diabetes during a pregnancy (gestational diabetes) or delivered a baby that weighed more than nine pounds.
The good news is when people with prediabetes learn how to make small, permanent lifestyle changes it can help them prevent or delay their progression to Type 2 diabetes. Research shows that making small lifestyle changes can lower the risk of Type 2 diabetes by as much as 58 percent. Alaska Natives and American Indians have some of the highest diabetes rates in the world. Because of these staggering statistics, the SEARHC Lifestyle Balance Program was established in 2005 to help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes in high-risk individuals. It is one of 37 similar efforts around the country funded by the Indian Health Service. The programs are designed to reduce the impacts of diabetes on Indian Country. Of the 162 people from Juneau, Sitka and Kake who have completed the SEARHC Lifestyle Balance Program, only five have gone on to develop Type 2 diabetes. “We know that diabetes has had a great impact on our culture, but you have the opportunity to change that,” said Kathryn Dennis, SEARHC Lifestyle Balance diabetes prevention program site coordinator for Juneau. “I am excited to be involved with the Lifestyle Balance Program, and I am honored to be able to pass on valuable knowledge which will empower our participants to take charge of their health.” The SEARHC Lifestyle Balance Program includes 16 hands-on classes, individual lifestyle coaching, quarterly follow-up and ongoing group events to share and learn how to continue making healthier choices during the journey to wellness. Participants also receive at least three years of support after they complete the classes. To participate in these free Lifestyle Balance Program classes, you must be at least 18 years old, be of Alaska Native or American Indian descent, be a resident of Juneau, have a clinical diagnosis of prediabetes or have had a higher than normal blood glucose level, and a willingness to participate in regular group education sessions and individual counseling sessions. Class times to be determined by potential participants and staff. For more information and to register for classes, contact Kathryn Dennis at 364-4453 or, or contact Susan Phillips at 364-4474 or