Local family physician prescribes preventative health care to address diabetes epidemic

Local Zurich family physician, Dr. Lori Teeple, is passionate about bringing preventative health care to her patients and community.

An associate professor at Western University’s Schulich of School of Medicine & Dentistry, Dr. Teeple has turned her team at Bluewater Area Family Health Team into a preventative health care practice, hoping to reduce the overall incidence of obesity and diabetes in the region. As a faculty member in the Schulich Medicine Distributed Education program, Dr. Teeple shares her knowledge of preventative health care by exposing medical students and medical residents to a preventative health care practice in a rural environment.

Knowing that more than 20 per cent of Canadians are obese and 10 per cent have diabetes, Dr. Teeple reviewed two studies in the U.S. and Europe in which thousands of participants underwent a diabetes prevention program. Finding the results encouraging, Dr. Teeple tailored the program for the unique geography of rural and remote communities in Southwestern Ontario.

One of the key tools for the program is a workbook, authored by Dr. Teeple, Overweight is a Disease: A Canadian Doctor’s Prescription for Self-Management.

Through her work with patients and a review of existing research, Dr. Teeple believes that the best approach to effective preventative care and weight loss is a combination of self-management and personal coaching. The workbook is part of the self-management strategy, helping patients understand their food triggers, change their eating behaviours, start exercising and continue to eat healthy when eating out or travelling.

In addition to the workbook, Dr. Teeple’s team supports patients through evening classes, personal coaching and videos. She also leads by example, participating with patients at the health team in a “Couch to 5K” running program three years ago. Her program focuses on weight loss, lifestyle changes and healthy eating.

However, she acknowledges the difficulties in running a preventative health care practice in addition to the demands of a regular practice. “We have a ‘sick-care’ system,” said Dr. Teeple. “Diabetes and obesity are epidemics and it’s like we’re trying to turn the Titanic bit by bit. We need to change our priority to be more of a health-care, health-focused system.”

MEDIA CONTACT: Tristan Joseph, Media Relations Officer, Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, Western University, t. 519.661.2111 ext. 80387, c. 519.777.1573, tristan.joseph@schulich.uwo.ca

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