DPH "InSTEP" with Good Health

September 3, 2013
Originally published Feb. 27, 2012

Each morning during the last week, Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) employees at 2 Peachtree who signed up to participate in the new worksite wellness pilot program rolled up their sleeves for a blood draw. The blood draws were to test the person's level of insulin. Elevated insulin levels can be an indicator for increased blood pressure and cholesterol, diabetes and other chronic diseases. When Commissioner Brenda Fitzgerald, M.D., proposed the idea of the new worksite wellness program, she wanted people to be aware of their body's insulin level. "By knowing their numbers, and what those numbers mean, I believe that people can take control of their health and make important steps toward better health outcomes," she said.

Called InSTEP (Insulin Support, Tips and Exercise Program), the program aims to improve the health of Public Health employees at 2 Peachtree through nutritional change and exercise. Dr. Fitzgerald has dubbed the elements of the program the "ABCs of Health" and they are: 

Activity every day. Participants are encouraged to do something good for their health three times each day, at 10:00 am, 2:00 pm and 4:00 pm by taking five minutes to be active. At noon, participants are encouraged to take 15 minutes to be active. Participants are given a list of exercises they can perform at their desks, a link to the website to view the correct way to conduct the exercises, and are encouraged to take their longer breaks to go on a walk. 

Beware of fakes. Participants are encouraged to read food labels and avoid processed and fake foods like artificial sweeteners and trans fats. 

Choose a change. Participants are encouraged to eliminate simple carbohydrates such as white rice, white potatoes, white flour and white sugar from their diets or choose another healthy change like taking the stairs or drinking more water. 

Along with the blood draw for the insulin test, participants also allowed recording of their blood pressure, height, weight and waist circumference.  In three months, participants will return for a second blood draw to find out if the knowledge of their starting insulin levels and the implementation of the "ABCs of Health" led to a reduction in insulin levels. To track their ABCs, participants will login to a website each day and record their activity and healthy changes. 

"I'm excited about this program," said Dr. Fitzgerald, shortly after having her blood drawn. "I think it is going to be really great. We are Public Health. We should be examples and shouldn't just talk about it." 
Sid Barrett, General Counsel, DPH, is participating in the project to support Public Health and make a few changes of his own. "I want to learn more about my blood chemistry and make a few healthy changes," he said.   

When asked what change he will choose, Barrett stated that he had not completely decided, but he knew he was going to start taking the stairs to and from his 15th floor office. He also cooks the PHWEEK healthy recipe each week. 

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