Health screening prompts Eau Claire patient to make lifestyle changes

May 18, 2016

Avid golfer Dean Babbitt walks the golf course to work exercise into his day. Many days, Babbitt walks more than 10 miles.

EAU CLAIRE, Wis. — When Dean Babbitt participated in his first Know Your Numbers community cholesterol, blood pressure and blood sugar screening event provided by Mayo Clinic Health System last year, he learned his triglycerides were high. He scheduled a yearly physical and blood test with his doctor, and learned he had Type 2 diabetes.

“It really was a shock for me; I have no family history on my side,” says Babbitt. However, he was no stranger to diabetes as a relative of his wife passed away from complications related to the disease.

“I knew how serious it could be,” says Babbitt. “I knew right away I wanted to make changes to avoid medications and the potential health issues that can come from unmanaged diabetes. I knew I needed to start thinking about making changes in my life.”

He made up his mind to improve his lifestyle by changing his diet and exercising. Part of his success, he says, is due to his wife, Sue Ann’s, support.

“Right away, my wife said, ‘Whatever we need to do, that’s what we’ll do,’” Babbitt recalls. “We did it together. That was huge.”

Babbitt says he became smarter about what he ate. “I like to grill, but she does the rest,” says Babbitt. Together, the couple cut out processed and fried foods, ate more foods with healthy ingredients and limited their portions.

Once the weather became warmer, Babbitt began walking, often more than 10 miles a day. Babbitt is proud to report his changes are working. In October 2015, Babbitt weighed 240 pounds. Today, he weighs 212 pounds and is well on his way to reaching his goal of 200 pounds.

“It’s a big burden off your knees and legs,” Babbitt says.

It wasn’t always easy.

“Cutting back and giving up foods I normally ate was hard,” Babbitt says. “Now, I can tell when I cheat and eat a burger or something — my blood sugars are higher.” He says it was difficult breaking unhealthy habits that he had done for so long, but the goal of becoming healthier kept him going.

Babbitt encourages others to take lifestyle changes seriously and encourages others to consider participating in the screenings that Mayo Clinic Health System offers.

“It’s very beneficial, because it opens your eyes and makes you aware of your situation,” Babbitt says.

Mayo Clinic Health System offers several classes and screenings throughout northwestern Wisconsin every year. In fact, the Healthy Living with Diabetes and Living Well with Chronic Conditions classes can be particularly helpful for people like Babbitt who are adjusting to living with diabetes or another chronic health condition:

  • Healthy Living with Diabetes: This seven-week workshop is for people 18 and older who have diabetes, prediabetes or live with someone who has diabetes. Learn about self-management in order to maintain an active and fulfilling life. Topics include medications, sick days, monitoring blood sugar, and skin and foot care.
  • Living Well with Chronic Conditions: This six-week workshop is for those who have, or live with someone that has, a chronic condition, such as diabetes, heart disease, arthritis or another long-term problem. Learn about managing the condition to maintain an active and fulfilling life.

If you are interested in these classes, go to the Classes & Events page at to register or to learn more about these community offerings.

# # #

Mayo Clinic Health System consists of clinics, hospitals and other facilities that serve the health care needs of people in more than 60 communities in Georgia, Iowa, Minnesota and Wisconsin. The community-based providers, paired with the resources and expertise of Mayo Clinic, enable patients in the region to receive the highest-quality health care close to home.

Press Contact

Kristin Everett
phone: 715-838-5805