Launch of first national multicultural diabetes prevention campaign

HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson and the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) launched the first national multicultural diabetes prevention campaign, Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent type 2 Diabetes, to take action against the growing diabetes epidemic.

"We need to act urgently to confront the epidemic of type 2 diabetes that is threatening Americans, especially minority populations," said Secretary Thompson. "There are effective steps that people can take for themselves to hold off the progression of type 2 diabetes. We need to reach Americans with the words and pictures that they understand to help them promote and protect their good health."

In response to the diabetes epidemic, HHS' NDEP is taking the lead on delivering the type 2 diabetes prevention message to high risk audiences through its campaign targeted to multicultural and older adult audiences. The campaign focuses on empowering people at high risk to make modest lifestyle changes that can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Campaign materials include motivational tip sheets for consumers as well as print and radio public service ads. Each set of materials is specifically tailored for one of the high risk groups:

  • African Americans;

  • Hispanic and Latino Americans;

  • American Indians and Alaska Natives;

  • Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders; and,

  • Adults aged 60 and older.

"Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our communities, especially for these high risk groups," said Dr. James R. Gavin III, chair of the National Diabetes Education Program and president of Morehouse School of Medicine. "If we are going to make a difference, we need to reach people where they live, work, and play, so we are partnering with community groups. We have consumer-friendly materials with practical advice in several languages. This campaign provides the tools to help those hardest hit by this growing epidemic to prevent the disease and its serious, deadly complications."

The rapid increase in people who are at risk for diabetes, and people with diabetes, is closely tracking the nation's escalating obesity rates. Last month, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) released a study that showed that deaths due to obesity will soon overtake tobacco as the leading cause of death. Overweight and obesity are key risk factors for developing type 2 diabetes.

The campaign was launched during National Minority Health Month at Shiloh Baptist Church in Washington, D.C. to highlight community-based physical activity and nutrition education programs. To demonstrate how people at risk can prevent diabetes, the NDEP has formed the Small Steps Big Rewards Team to Prevent Diabetes. The team is comprised of people from across the U.S. representing each of the high-risk populations. Team members are involved in local programs helping people at risk take small steps to prevent type 2 diabetes and will host launch events in their communities to kick off the campaign. The Small Steps Big Rewards Team to Prevent Diabetes members are Jose Cortez of Arizona; Carmencita Domingo of California; Christie Byars of Oklahoma; Rev. Sam Kitching of Florida; and Frenchy Risco of Pennsylvania.

"People need to know if they have pre-diabetes or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Allen M. Spiegel, director of the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. "Talk to your health care provider about your risk. By taking small steps today, you can achieve a big reward — delaying or preventing type 2 diabetes."

According to the National Diabetes Education Program, everyone over age 45 should consult with his or her health care provider about testing for pre-diabetes or diabetes. Those over 45 and overweight are strongly recommended for testing. Those who are younger than 45, overweight, and who have one or more of the other risk factors could be at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and should also consult their health care provider about testing. Risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Age: risk increases with age

  • Overweight: BMI (body mass index) 25 or higher (23 or higher if Asian American, 26 or higher if Pacific Islander)

  • Blood pressure: 140/90 mm/Hg or higher

  • Cholesterol: Abnormal lipid levels — HDL cholesterol less than 40mg/dL for men and less than 50 mg/dL for women; triglyceride level 250 mg/dL or higher

  • Family history of diabetes: having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes

  • Ethnicity: African American, American Indian, Asian American, Pacific Islander, or Hispanic American/Latino heritage

  • History of gestational diabetes: or giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds

  • Inactive lifestyle: exercise fewer than three times a week

For more information about the campaign, including tip sheets, tools to help people lose weight and track their progress, and more information about pre-diabetes, visit the NDEP website at To order free copies of the materials, call 1-800-438-5383.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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