Guam Diabetes Association Press Conference Yields Invaluable Ways to Combat, Manage, and Prevent the Chronic Disease



“Who Cares for Diabetes?” was the theme of the Guam Diabetes Association’s 23rd annual diabetes conference— and according to special guest speakers, Drs. Katherine Banal, Melliza Young, and Karla Fernando, diabetes should concern us all. 

Guam’s prevalence of diabetes is high-ranking, as it is the sixth leading cause of death in Guam, with the youngest known child diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in Guam at age 5.

According to the Department of Public Health and Social Services, the most common causes of the onset of chronic disease are obesity, lack of physical activity, and poor nutrition choices. Another significant factor, says Dr. Katherine Banal, is the lack of education about diabetes:

 “It’s a cliche, but knowledge is power. So, I think that knowledge gap— that is one of the biggest barriers, and honestly, I think us doctors have a bigger role in it— sometimes, because of so many patients we handle in the clinics, there is really limited time, so we’ll have short consultations, and there is really so much information that we could share in that period.” 

Attainable Ways to Combat, Manage, and Prevent Diabetes 

To close the knowledge gap surrounding diabetes, the annual conference sought to address a larger audience, reinforce common prevention and management measures, and provide realistic and culturally relevant practices. 

The following solutions may be attainable for individuals to implement into their daily lives, says Dr. Karla Fernando, who is part of the Technical Working Group of the ongoing Clinical Practice Guidelines on Type 2 Diabetes:

“So, I would tell my patients that you don’t have to change your diet entirely. I cannot force anyone to be a vegan or not to eat meat or pork at all unless you have a very, very serious complication already. But, I think portion control is significant, and always incorporate vegetables…so maybe you could just modify a little but not change because the patient—or the people, will not follow you if entirely change their lifestyle.” 

Considering Guam’s rising cost of living, access to nutritious foods is challenging. However, Dr. Banal says small solutions like eating what you make from home instead of buying food elsewhere may help alleviate the issue of pricey and unhealthy foods, as this solution may be cheaper, and Individuals can control what goes into their food. 

Dr. Melliza Young added that healthy eating is not one-size-fits-all, as different techniques work for varying people, encouraging individuals to seek out information about diabetes to make empowered decisions regarding their health. 


Destiny Cruz, PNC News First.

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Starting as the weather personality for the Pacific News Center in 2019, then as a reporter, Destiny Cruz is now PNC’s lead anchor, producer, writer, and TV host for two of Sorensen Media Group’s shows. Over three years at PNC, Destiny has covered issues impacting our island in areas including legislation and health, to name a few, in addition to highlighting the meaningful stories of Guam’s community in features and lifestyle. Corresponding with her professional growth, Destiny has acquired personal achievements that have contributed to her development as a dynamic woman: she is a proud graduate of the Guam Community College, earning her degree in liberal studies, a former Miss Guam (Miss World Guam 2017), and singer/songwriter.