Happy Diabetes Alert Day! OK, so it's not a real holiday, but once a year in March, the American Diabetes Association holds its one-day "wake-up call" to encourage Americans to take the Diabetes Risk Test, which is a short, seven question online test to determine one's risk for developing type 2 diabetes. This year, for every Diabetes Risk Test taken between now and April 27, Boar's Head will donate $5 to the American Diabetes Association (up to $50,000).
The results show whether you have a low, medium or high risk, what your specific risk factors are (race, weight, family history, etc), and what you can do about it. Last year, almost 600,000 people took the Diabetes Risk Test. But how effective was it at getting folks a diagnosis? The ADA estimates that 250,000 people scored "high risk" out of the 600K who took the test.
Geralyn Spollett, President of Health Care & Education at the American Diabetes Association, says, "If every one of the 250,000 who took the test last year and scored 'high risk' saw a doctor and was tested for diabetes, about 50,000 would have been diagnosed as a result. "
50,000?! Wow. It's sad to see so many people joining our club, but at the same time, we hope these people are getting the medical attention they need and deserve! But that's only a small percentage of the overall number of folks who scored high on the risk test. How can we encourage folks to follow-up and see their doctor?
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"I try to impress upon people that early intervention can keep them healthier longer," says Geralyn. "Sometimes they are afraid to find out that they have diabetes because it means that they will start insulin right away. The discussion with the physician needs to be around lifestyle changes and learning more about taking care of yourself going forward. It is hard to talk to someone about beta cell preservation when they know nothing about diabetes, but people do understand about treating a problem before it gets to a crisis point and you have no choices left."
ADA Lobbies Against House Budget Cuts
The ADA is also hard at work preventing another crisis: stopping the House from passing a budget resolution that could result in deep cuts in health programs and diabetes research and prevention programs. The ADA recently issued a statement opposing these cuts, saying, "We are dismayed that the brunt of the efforts to reduce the deficit is falling disproportionately on critical programs providing a lifeline of research, prevention and treatment services to people with diabetes and other health needs. The House resolution leads us down a path to reducing funding for diabetes research and prevention programs, one that will severely damage our nation's response to the diabetes epidemic and its devastating and costly complications such as amputations, blindness, heart disease and kidney failure."
The resolution would $19 billion from overall funding for 2013 for selected public health programs, including the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation, and its National Diabetes Prevention Program.
Earlier this month on March 13th, the ADA held an advocacy day on Capitol Hill, along with a call-in day to Members of Congress to stress the importance of funding. In addition, the ADA is also running ads in Hill papers asking Members to protect the funding.
We hope their efforts are successful! btw, you can sign up here to get updates and action alerts from the ADA.
Diabetes Advocates Rock the Media
The ADA isn't the only diabetes organization working on prevention. The Diabetes Advocates — a program of the Diabetes Hands Foundation that brings grassroots advocates together to raise awareness — today launches a new media outreach campaign focused on dispelling myths and correcting factual errors about diabetes before they hit newsstands and airwaves. Have you ever read an article or watched a segment in which the media gets diabetes all wrong? Diabetes Advocates wants to make sure that stops happening!
The media often poorly explains what diabetes is, how it is treated, and how we live with it. They leave us to clean up the mess when we hear from our mother-in-law or next-door neighbor about how we could "cure our diabetes" or that we have the "bad kind of diabetes." So DA has organized a group of volunteers who will respond to inquiries from reporters to help fact check, ensure accuracy and serve as sources.
Amy and I are very proud to be part of Diabetes Advocates and we're looking forward to seeing how this new program helps the media tell more accurate stories about diabetes.
If you're looking a some way to get personally involved in diabetes advocacy, the Diabetes Advocates are now accepting applications until April 1 (and that's no joke!).