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Turning Turkey Day into a Family Health Check-In


Monday, November 24, 2008   

Richmond – Serve up some health advice along with the mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner, suggests Rick Shinn, spokesman for the Virginia Community Healthcare Association. He says the holidays are good occasions to convince family members to schedule a diabetes exam.

More than 130,000 Virginians don't know they have diabetes, Shinn explains. Because the disease runs in families, holiday get-togethers offer valuable opportunities to check in with loved ones and recommend a check-up, Shinn says.

"With all the eating going on at Thanksgiving, it's really a great time to talk to each other about health issues, help each other out and suggest that family members take a look at their own health."

It's easy for hosts to include healthy dishes alongside the traditional butter-basted turkey, Shinn says, and guests can even bring a healthy side dish to stay on course.

"Instead of having, say, a high-sugar dessert, you can serve something a little more healthy for your family to indulge in."

If diabetes isn't treated it can lead to blindness, kidney disease, stroke, heart disease, even amputation. According to Shinn, studies show that community health center patients are twice as likely to have their blood sugar level checked regularly and are therefore better able to avoid complications of diabetes.

Community healthy centers are located in medically under-served areas, Shinn says. They offer comprehensive primary health care to anyone seeking it, and all community residents have equal access regardless of ability to pay, geographic location, culture, age, sex, or religion.

More than 200,000 Virginians across the state enjoy easy access to health care at community health centers. Locations are listed online at www.VAcommunityhealth.org.

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