About 40 percent of U.S. adults ages 40 to 74 — millions of whom are Hispanic or Latino — currently have pre-diabetes, a condition that raises a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.
To respond to this rapidly growing problem, experts from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) and community-based organizations from around the country met today at the National Council of La Raza's (NCLR) annual conference to discuss national and local efforts to stem the diabetes epidemic in the Hispanic community.
"Every minute of every day, another American develops type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Saul Malozowski, Senior Advisor for Clinical Trials and Diabetes Translation at the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. "Without intervention, one in three children born in the year 2000 will develop diabetes in his or her lifetime. For some of us, the risk is even higher. If that child is Hispanic and female, she has a one in two chance of developing diabetes in her lifetime. We need to get the word out that type 2 diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful."
While diabetes is a growing epidemic for Hispanics, a recent landmark study found that type 2 diabetes can be delayed or prevented in people at risk for the disease.
The National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP), a joint effort of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, developed a bilingual diabetes prevention campaign in response to the results of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) clinical trial: "Prevengamos la diabetes tipo 2. Paso a Paso" (Let's Prevent Type 2 Diabetes: Step by Step). The campaign highlights the study's findings that by losing a small amount of weight, limiting fat and caloric intake, and exercising 30 minutes a day, 5 days a week, participants dramatically reduced their risk for diabetes by more than half. More than 500 Hispanics participated in the DPP.
"With 'Paso a Paso,' we are asking Hispanics to find out if they are at risk for diabetes, and we're showing them how to take action to prevent it," said Yanira Cruz, the chair of the NDEP's Hispanic/Latino Work Group, and a speaker at today's meeting. "The key is modest weight loss and regular physical activity. I 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."
José Cortez took this message to his family and community after learning about the success of diabetes prevention efforts by other Latinos. Cortez, who works for Chicanos Por La Causa, a statewide community development corporation in Phoenix, now hikes regularly with his family, and even coordinates an annual hike for his organization. Cortez shared his successes — both personally and professionally — to spread the message of diabetes prevention today at the NCLR workshop.
"Chicanos Por La Causa creates opportunities for leaders in the community," said Cortez. "But strong leaders need to be healthy. For me, that means hiking regularly, but for others that may mean taking a walk during lunch or substituting fruits and vegetables for less healthy foods. But taking the first step is always the most important."
To help Hispanics take their first step, the NDEP is offering a new music CD free of charge to help Hispanics get more physical activity to prevent type 2 diabetes. Performed by a diverse group of Hispanic recording artists, MOVIMIENTO, Por Su Vida (Movement, For Your Life) is a collection of six original songs with a Latin dance beat and lyrics that celebrate life in an effort to promote physical activity as a way to stay healthy and help prevent diabetes.
The CD's appeal transcends age and language boundaries combining cross-cultural lyrics with key messages and words repeated in Spanish and English. Strong, positive health messages are promoted via energetic, sizzling songs that make you want to get up and move. The CD comes with an insert that includes tips on how to incorporate the music into day-to-day activities as well as into special events such as community cultural gatherings, health promotion programs or even aerobics classes.
"Everything counts — taking the stairs, walking the dog, dancing to music, mowing the lawn — small changes can be easily incorporated," said Cruz. "Physical activity just needs to occur every day. Make it fun and take it step by step!"
The campaign also includes:
- National radio public service messages that will air on Spanish-language radio stations across the country
- Print public service announcements that encourage Hispanics to prevent diabetes
- A recipe and meal planner booklet featuring healthier twists on traditional Latino recipes
- New education materials on diabetes prevention
The Department of Health and Human Service's 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.
For more information or to obtain a free copy of MOVIMIENTO or any of the campaign materials, call 1-800-438-5383 (bilingual information specialists are available), or visit the NDEP website at www.ndep.nih.gov.