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Diabetes Management in a Box

Practical information — from cookbooks to portion guides — help newly diagnosed to cope

Photo of diabetes box with text Today is a new beginning.


Sometimes innovation comes in small packages. That's certainly the case with the Let's Be Well Diabetes Box, an AARP and American Diabetes Association (ADA) collaboration launched earlier this year.

Sold online at for $49.99, the diabetes box is designed to be a practical, informational tool for people newly diagnosed with the disease. It's never easy to be told you have a chronic health condition, but having lots of easy-to-digest information to help manage it right away may reduce both fear and frustration.

The carefully curated box includes a diabetes cookbook; a divided lunch plate to make portion control easier and a portion-control guide to provide information that will help diabetes patients manage blood sugar and weight; aloe foot-repair cream; and a year’s subscription to the ADA's Diabetes Forecast magazine.

The nutrition information seems to be especially valuable to people with diabetes — who are also often on a fixed budget — so a less-expensive, smaller box focused just on healthy eating is available for $19.99 (called the “regular,” as opposed to the “plus,” box).  

AARP’s Office of Enterprise Innovation was inspired to develop Let’s Be Well boxes while considering new ways for AARP to support caregivers, says Andre Bierzynski, innovation director at AARP. Bierzynski and his team realized that in many cases, “the best way to help caregivers is to help care recipients,” he explains. And a key way to do so would be to offer practical, clearly presented information to patients who are first learning how to manage their diseases.

“People have told us they go home after their diagnoses and get overwhelmed by all the information online,” Bierzynski says. “They don’t even know where to begin.”

Some 600 people have purchased the box since it was first sold in May. And United Healthcare’s Optum members who have diabetes are receiving them for free during home-nursing visits — a pilot program that will eventually distribute 2,000 boxes.

The response has been positive, Bierzynski says, with 65 percent of recipients reporting that the box has helped them manage their diabetes. He hopes that better health will be the long-term result. Though diabetes is one of the leading causes of death in the U.S. — affecting 1 in 4 Americans 65 and older — outcomes are strongly associated with lifestyle choices.

AARP's innovation team is planning to expand the Let’s Be Well project to help people with other chronic conditions, and is now working with the American Heart Association to create a Heart Health Box that will be available at the beginning of 2019.

“This is less about the box and more about the opportunity to reach people at an important transition point,” Bierzynski says. “It’s just one avenue for giving people the help they need.”

Published October 5, 2018