The U.S. government had about 17 million reasons to launch the latest in its string of public health and fitness campaigns begun in 2002. That’s the number of Americans with diabetes, type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes.
Late last November, U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Tommy G. Thompson unveiled the first national diabetes prevention campaign in an effort to stem the explosion of diabetes in the American population. The campaign, “Small Steps, Big Rewards,” emphasizes that modest lifestyle changes, including healthier diets and physical activity, can help people prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease. (For more information on type 2 diabetes, see IDEA Personal Trainer, October 2002, pp. 30-31.)
“This campaign says that there is hope for the millions of Americans who are at risk for developing diabetes,” Thompson said. “You don’t have to be a marathon runner or starve yourself to prevent diabetes. You can make small changes and take small steps that translate into big rewards.”
The campaign grew out of the findings of the HHS Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) clinical trial, which showed that people with pre-diabetes (those with higher-than-normal blood glucose levels but not yet diabetic) can delay and possibly prevent type 2 diabetes by losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight through moderate changes in diet and exercise.
Among the risk factors for diabetes that an active lifestyle can help decrease are overweight, inactivity, high blood pressure, low HDL cholesterol and high triglycerides.
The campaign—run by the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), which is jointly sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)—has several special features:
- tools that at-risk populations can use daily to help change their lifestyles
- a health care provider's toolkit that guides users on how to educate and help their clients
- Web-based resources for health care providers and consumers
- a partner outreach program that uses NDEP's network of partners at the local, state and national levels to deliver the diebetes prevetion message and develop appropriate community interventions
- the participation of business and conumer-based programs and initiatives as partnersin diabetes prevention
- messages and materials for a national public awareness campaign
You can get more information on not only the campaign but also diabetes in general by visiting www.ndep.nih.gov or calling 1-800-438-5383.