News Release

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Statement from NIDDK Director Griffin P. Rodgers for National Diabetes Month, World Diabetes Day

The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), an initiative of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is pleased to recognize November as National Diabetes Awareness Month and Nov. 14 as World Diabetes Day. This year, NDEP is raising awareness about the importance of preventing type 2 diabetes by focusing on family health history and gestational diabetes as important risk factors for developing diabetes.

In his official proclamation ( recognizing Diabetes Month, President Barack Obama called upon "all Americans, school systems, government agencies, nonprofit organizations, health care providers, and research institutions to join in activities that raise diabetes awareness and help prevent, treat, and manage the disease."

Nearly 24 million Americans have diabetes and nearly one-quarter of them do not know it. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications such as heart disease, stroke, kidney disease, blindness and amputation. An additional 57 million Americans are estimated to have pre-diabetes, a condition that places them at increased risk for developing type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Many people with type 2 diabetes have one or more family members with the disease, such as a mother, father, brother or sister. The NDEP encourages families to talk about their family's history of diabetes. Knowing your family's health history is important because it gives you and your health care team information about your risk for type 2 diabetes.

The Surgeon General's Family Health History Initiative web-based tool, My Family Health Portrait (, makes it easier for families to assemble and share their health history, and the NDEP offers some questions to help families talk about family health history and diabetes:

  • Does anyone in the family have type 2 diabetes?
  • Has anyone in the family been told he or she might get diabetes?
  • Has anyone in the family been told he or she needs to lower their weight or increase their physical activity to prevent type 2 diabetes?
  • Did your mother get diabetes when she was pregnant? This is known as gestational diabetes (GDM).

If the answer to any of the sample questions is yes, it's important to share your family's health history with a doctor to learn if you are at risk and to visit for information about preventing or delaying type 2 diabetes and its complications.

The good news is that people with a family history of type 2 or gestational diabetes can take steps now to prevent or delay the onset of the disease. Losing a small amount of weight — 5 to 7 percent (10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person) — can help delay or prevent the disease. And the whole family can benefit by making healthy food choices and being more active.

The NDEP also celebrates World Diabetes Day (, November 14, to raise awareness of the global burden of diabetes. This year's theme for World Diabetes Day, Diabetes Education and Prevention, is supported by NDEP's focus on increasing awareness of family health history of diabetes and history of gestational diabetes as important risk factors for developing this disease.

The NDEP ( works with more than 200 federal, state and local partners and offers materials and resources to the general public, people diagnosed with diabetes, and health care and business professionals.

The National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), part of NIH, conducts and supports basic and clinical research and research training on some of the most common, severe, and disabling conditions affecting Americans. The Institute's research interests include: diabetes and other endocrine and metabolic diseases; digestive diseases, nutrition, and obesity; and kidney, urologic and hematologic diseases. For more information, visit

About the National Institutes of Health (NIH): NIH, the nation's medical research agency, includes 27 Institutes and Centers and is a component of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. NIH is the primary federal agency conducting and supporting basic, clinical, and translational medical research, and is investigating the causes, treatments, and cures for both common and rare diseases. For more information about NIH and its programs, visit

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