Diabetes Forecast

The Big Blue Test: Worldwide Diabetes Test-In

By Tracey Neithercott ,

If Manny Hernandez has his way, World Diabetes Day will be celebrated with thousands of finger sticks. Hernandez, the brain behind the TuDiabetes social network, is raising awareness about diabetes with the Big Blue Test, a worldwide diabetes test-in on November 14. Forecast spoke with Hernandez about the event and what he hopes it will accomplish.

How did you come up with the idea for the Big Blue Test?

The Big Blue Test concept was derived from an earlier event we did in the month of July. By then we had reached 10,000 readers on both our English TuDiabetes site and our Spanish site. At least 1,200 people participated [by simultaneously testing their blood glucose].

How will the Big Blue Test differ from July's event?

We learned a few lessons from that exercise. We decided to focus it on outside social media like Twitter. We decided to reach out to other diabetes social networks. Another change we made was to include physical activity as part of it. We ask people to test, exercise [for 14 minutes] if they don't have any contraindications from their doctor, and test again.

Why did you add an exercise component?

There was feedback we got from a public-health nonprofit that it would be good to emphasize exercise... [The event is] reminding people who may not be exercising as often as they should about the importance of exercise.

Who can join?

It's international, and because it's done online, it's easy to make it international. We encourage people who do not have diabetes to join in if they have a loved one with diabetes, as a sign of support.

How many people do you hope will participate?

If you count all the people of all the communities we're having test, it could be well over 100,000 [participants].

The Big Blue Test takes place on World Diabetes Day. Was that a coincidence?

This is an exercise in raising awareness about diabetes. We looked for something that would be much more tied to a universal symbol. The idea was to bring the testing concept to World Diabetes Day—that was intentional.

What else do you hope people will get from the Big Blue Test?

The thing that was very important from the first time we did it in July was the community-the sense of community it builds. ... Testing is typically a private activity. Usually you're not shouting what your glucose is. We're asking people to do that and come out of the diabetes "closet." And we saw that last time: People were more vocal. Several hundred people who were nowhere to be found [before] came out.

Want to get in on the action? Here's how it works:

  1. At 2 p.m. local time, test your blood glucose.
  2. Get active. Run, walk around the block, play catch with your dog. It doesn't matter what you do as long as you get 14 minutes of exercise. (If exercise isn't something you do frequently, check with your doctor first.)
  3. Test again.
  4. Post your readings and the activity you did at bigbluetest.org or one of the seven other participating sites: Diabetic Connect, Diabetes Daily, Children With Diabetes, Diabetic Rockstar, dLife, and My Diabetes Central. You can also add a photo of your readings or of you exercising.
  5. If you have a Twitter account, you can tweet your readings and exercise with the "hashtag" #bigbluetest, then link to bigbluetest.org.


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