Divabetic outreach aims to make over diabetes' image

NEW YORK: Diabetic women who feel better about their appearance will also be more inspired to improve their medical care - which is the dual message behind nonprofit group Divabetic's "Makeover Your Diabetes" campaign.

NEW YORK: Diabetic women who feel better about their appearance will also be more inspired to improve their medical care - which is the dual message behind nonprofit group Divabetic's "Makeover Your Diabetes" campaign.

The group, created and run by Max Szadek, former personal assistant to singer Luther Vandross, hosted two outreach events last week to respond to a series of New York Times articles that detailed the growing impact of the disease on the city.

More than one in eight adult New Yorkers have diabetes, according to the report.

"In essence, I was searching for an interesting way to broaden diabetes outreach in general," Szadek said, adding that the group, which has its roots in New York and New Jersey, hopes to expand the campaign nationally. "We target women because women are the healthcare advocates of their families."

Nurses and diabetes educators work alongside makeup artists and DJs at the events - and Szadek noted that when the aim is "not preach, but pamper," participants are more receptive to the health message. "Part of our message is definitely empowerment," he said.

Divabetic is working with the Juvenile Diabetes Research Fund to promote the campaign. Szadek noted that he also had help from PR consultants from J Records and Sony, the labels that represented Vandross.

Vandross was a diabetic before he died of a stroke last summer at the age of 54.

The campaign has been promoted on dLife, a diabetes news talk show, as well as to radio and TV hosts. Divabetic also drew participants through a viral e-mail effort.

Szadek noted that the campaign primarily targets women who are in the Sex and the City age group, but who will also skew both younger and older.

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