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Lowering the Riks of Diabetes in the Sikh Community

Sikhs have a heightened risk of Type 2 diabetes owing to a genetic predisposition. A study by Sidju et al (2020) has shown that despite the fact that many young Sikhs are highly educated, they can still lack awareness regarding contributing factors to this disease. What factors do Sikhs sometimes overlook when it comes to prevention and how can medical intervention lead to better behaviors and outcomes?

The Link Between Low Levels of Physical Activity and Type 2 Diabetes

Physical activity is a vital element in Type 2 diabetes prevention and it can serve to modify the risk factor of developing this disease. As found by Sidju et al, however, many Sikhs overlook the lack of physical activity as a contributing factor towards Type 2 diabetes. The researchers also pointed out that gender and cultural norms influenced diet and physical activity, as these are passed down across generations to preserve the Sikh culture. The researchers recommended that health professionals work to tailor preventative services in line with cultural and gender norms. For instance, bhangra dancing is an excellent way to battle sedentarism and stay in shape.

What Prevention Plans are Available to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes?

There are many prevention programs that can help prevent or delay Type 2 diabetes — including The National Diabetes Prevention Program (a partnership of public and private organizations) and the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program, which is centered on individuals who have signs of prediabetes. Some programs can be accessed by people on Medicare, as well as those on Medicare plans offered through private insurance — such as Medigap and Medicare Advantage When choosing, clients should note that Medigap offers predictable costs, the freedom to choose a doctor that accepts Medicare, and travel coverage, making it superior to other policies that have more restrictions. Within this network, Sikhs should seek out doctors who understand and are sensitive to their specific cultural habits.

Culturally Adapted Diabetes Prevention Programs Lead to Improved Health Outcomes

Research by Lim and colleagues (2019) has found that a culturally-tailored community health workers intervention could successfully improve diabetes prevention results among Sikh Asian Indians who are at risk for this condition. In the study, participants (living in New York City) were given six community health worker-led education sessions and 10 follow-up calls. Improvements were found in aspects such as weight, Body Mass Index, and health-related self-efficacy. The program includes recommendations for dietary changes, increased exercise levels, and other lifestyle changes. The program was culturally adapted since it tied the need for diabetes prevention to Sikh core values; incorporated healthy elements in traditional Indian cooking; gave importance to stress prevention by talking about the stigma associated with mental health and by covering Naam Simran (a type of meditation used in Sikhism); and more.

Sikh Asian Indians have high rates of diabetes. Community health workers can effectively address health disparities via adapted programs that take into account Sikh traditions and culture. Programs should cover aspects such as stigma surrounding mental health problems, healthy traditional recipes, and activities embraced in Sikhism.

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