Millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives at Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes|
New Awareness Campaign Uses Testimonials to Help Reverse Diabetes Risk
Ada, Oklahoma About 40 percent of adults ages 40
to 74 or 41 million people have pre-diabetes, a condition
that raises a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart
disease, and stroke. American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.3
times as likely to have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites of similar
age. To respond to this rapidly growing problem, the U.S. Department
of Health and Human Services' (HHS) National Diabetes Education
Program (NDEP) launched a public awareness campaign today called
"We Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes" at the new Chickasaw
Nation Health System's Diabetes Care Center, an annex of the Carl
Albert Indian Health Facility in Ada, Oklahoma. The campaign promotes
the message that American Indians and Alaska Natives can fight the
high incidence of type 2 diabetes in their communities if they take
steps to lose a modest amount of weight by moving more, eating less,
and making healthy food choices.
"We Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes" is part of NDEP's
Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent type 2 Diabetes campaign,
which targets groups at highest risk for diabetes. The campaign
uses "real life" testimonials from American Indians and
Alaska Natives who have made lifestyle changes to prevent diabetes
and encourages others to take up the charge.
"Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our communities, especially
for high risk groups," said Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, Director
of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). "If we are going
to make a difference, we need to reach people where they live, work,
and play, with information that is consumer-friendly and practical
based on the proven science of diabetes prevention. Our goal is
to empower those at high risk for type 2 diabetes to take steps
to prevent this devastating disease."
"We are asking American Indians and Alaska Natives to fight
back because of their increased risk for type 2 diabetes. We're
showing them how to take action to prevent or delay the disease,"
said Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Deputy Director of the National Institutes
of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at NIH. "The
key is regular physical activity and modest weight loss as little
as 5 to 7 percent of your body weight. We want to encourage people
to take this message of good health to their families and their
communities, so we can put an end to the diabetes epidemic."
Among testimonials featured in the campaign is one from Glenda
Thomas Fifer, a participant in the Diabetes Prevention Program clinical
trial from the Gila River Indian Community. She says: "I know
everyone can do it, once they make up their mind. A lot of people
out there know it runs in their family and they think, 'Okay, I'm
going to get it.' No, it's not so. You can prevent it. If I can
do it, you can do it." These motivational messages and healthy
lifestyle advice are used in the campaign's tip sheets, radio and
print public service announcements, and posters. Hundreds of public
and private partners will help to distribute the materials throughout
the American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
"Diabetes is ravaging our community. We, as Native Americans,
must spread the word about the many ways we can beat this devastating
disease," said Tom John, Director of the Chickasaw Nation Health
System's Diabetes Care Center, who helped develop the campaign and
took part in today's announcement.
John was joined by Debra Jim, a member of NDEP's "Small Steps.
Big Rewards Team to Prevent type 2 Diabetes." The team was
assembled by NDEP to put a human face on the populations that are
at high risk for the disease. Each member is actively working in
his or her community to show some examples of lifestyle changes
they have made to prevent diabetes. Ms. Jim sets an example for
family members and co-workers at the Chickasaw Nation Health System
where she is employed by working out at the fitness center in the
new Diabetes Care Center.
"I adopted my healthy lifestyle and committed myself to informing
my family and friends about the rewards it brings freedom from blindness,
from amputation, from daily injections of insulin," said Ms.
Jim. "My older relatives have it, so I am starting with myself
and working with my children to break the cycle of this devastating
disease in generation after generation. We do have the power to
change. It's within all of us."
Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, Faculty at the University of Arizona's College
of Public Health and Chair of NDEP's American Indian and Alaska
Native Work Group, said the partnership of community-based healthy
living programs, such as the Chickasaw Nation Wellness Center and
a national public awareness campaign, is a prescription for making
real inroads to stem the diabetes epidemic in the American Indian
and Alaska Native communities. "This will make a resounding
difference in the lives of American Indian and Alaska Native families,"
said Roubideaux, a past president of the Association of American
Indian Physicians (AAIP).
"This is a job all of us must take part in. American Indians
and Alaska Natives do not have to suffer from diabetes and its complications.
Knowing how to eat healthy and increase physical activity to lose
a small amount of weight are the keys to longer, healthier lives.
We must get the word out that type 2 diabetes prevention is proven,
possible, and powerful," said Roubideaux.
HHS' NDEP is a federally funded program, co-sponsored by the National
Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
and is a leading source for information about diabetes care and
prevention. NDEP has more than 200 partner organizations that form
a network to reach the health care community and those affected
by diabetes at the federal, state, and local levels.
The Chickasaw Nation Health System is part of the NDEP's partnership
network. Its new Diabetes Care Center provides the Chickasaw Nation
with a comprehensive program for helping to control and prevent
type 2 diabetes. The 8,500-square-foot center includes a patient
exam space, a fitness room, a patient education conference room,
a teaching kitchen, and administrative space. A fully certified
laboratory and pharmacy are also housed there.
For more information about the diabetes prevention campaign and
free materials, including tip sheets and the GAMEPLAN for Preventing
type 2 Diabetes tools to help people lose weight, get
active, and track their progress visit the NDEP website at
www.ndep.nih.gov or call 1-800-438-5383.