People with pre-diabetes can make changes to prevent serious illness

The Department of Health recently launched a new awareness outreach campaign about pre-diabetes, a condition that raises a person's risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke. It is estimated that 900,000 Washington residents have "pre-diabetes." About 252,000 people in Washington have been diagnosed with diabetes. Another 100,000 are believed to have undiagnosed diabetes.

"When people discover they have pre-diabetes, they can take steps to prevent the onset of diabetes and other serious health problems by losing weight, becoming physically active, and eating a healthy diet," said Patty Hayes, R.N., Assistant Secretary-Community and Family Health.

Part of the state’s outreach program is the Diabetes Detection Initiative, which targets Asian and Pacific Islander communities in the Seattle area for diabetes screening. Asian Americans are about twice as likely and Pacific Island Americans are three times as likely to develop diabetes as whites, according to a national health survey published in the January 2004 issue of Diabetes Care.

The federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) predict that, without intervention, one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in their lifetime. Many diabetes professionals believe there is a strong connection between the rise in childhood obesity and development of type 2 diabetes.

The Department of Health launched a statewide diabetes prevention program – "Small Steps, Big Rewards. Prevent type 2 diabetes" – to encourage people to be screened for diabetes and pre-diabetes. The campaign includes motivational tip sheets, and advertising targeted to communities at highest risk for developing diabetes: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders; and adults aged 60 and older.

The health department’s "Steps to a Healthier US" program targets communities in Chelan, Douglas, Okanogan, Clark and Thurston counties, and Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation for chronic disease prevention, including diabetes prevention and control.

According to the United States Department of Health and Human Services, about 40 percent of adults, ages 40 to 74, have pre-diabetes, which is marked by blood glucose (sugar) levels that are higher than normal but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes. About 30 percent of people with pre-diabetes develop type 2 diabetes within three years. Type 2 diabetes was formerly called "adult-onset" diabetes or "non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus," and accounts for 90-95 percent of all diagnosed cases of diabetes.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services estimate is based on a revised, more accurate definition of pre-diabetes made by an international expert committee of the American Diabetes Association and published in the November issue of Diabetes Care. The new definition of pre-diabetes identifies more people who are likely to develop type 2 diabetes, highlighting the importance of preventing this disease.

For more information about preventing diabetes in Washington, call toll free: 888-438-2247. Diabetes prevention and control information is also available online

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