Millions of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders at increased risk for type 2 diabetes

About 40 percent of adults ages 40 to 74 - or 41 million people - have pre-diabetes, a condition that raises a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

Studies show that Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders who are overweight are at increased risk for type 2 diabetes, and some groups, including Native Hawaiians, Filipinos, and Japanese Americans living in Hawaii, are twice as likely to have diabetes as white residents of similar age.

To respond to this serious health threat, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ (HHS) National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) launched a public awareness campaign today called “Two Reasons I Find Time to Prevent Diabetes…My Future and Theirs” at the Paradise Valley Hospital in National City, a San Diego suburb. The campaign delivers the message that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with modest weight loss by getting regular physical activity and making healthy food choices.

“Two Reasons I Find Time to Prevent Diabetes” is part of NDEP’s Small Steps. Big Rewards. Prevent type 2 Diabetes campaign that targets groups at high risk for diabetes by promoting the importance of losing a small amount of weight. Tailored specifically for Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders, “Two Reasons” speaks to the strong intergenerational family ties in Asian American and Pacific Islander communities and encourages people at risk to make lifestyle changes now so they can live a long and healthy life and enjoy their loved ones in the future.

“We are asking Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders to find out if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes, and we’re showing them how to take action to prevent it,” said HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson. “Asian Americans may not realize that the weight they think is healthy is putting them at risk for diabetes. That’s why the Small Steps campaign is so important.”

Nina Agbayani, Director of Programs for the Association of Asian Pacific Community Health Organizations (AAPCHO), discussed her organization’s involvement with the campaign. “Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders do not have to suffer from diabetes and its complications,” said Ms. Agbayani. “Working with our member organizations and clinics across the United States, we will get the word out that preventing type 2 diabetes is proven, possible, and powerful,” she said. AAPCHO is dedicated to improving the health status and access to health care of Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians, and Pacific Islanders in the United States.

“This partnership of community-based health programs and a national public awareness campaign is a prescription for making real inroads in stemming the diabetes epidemic,” said Dr. James R. Gavin III, Chair of the NDEP and President of the Morehouse School of Medicine.

San Diego native Carmencita Domingo participated in the campaign launch as a member of NDEP’s Small Steps. Big Rewards. Team to Prevent type 2 Diabetes. This group of committed citizens 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 demonstrate lifestyle changes they have made to prevent or delay diabetes. Ms. Domingo sets an example as activity director at the Hope Adult Day Health Care Center in the San Diego area.

“I adopted a healthy lifestyle and made the commitment to inform my family and friends about the freedoms it can bring — freedom from daily injections of insulin, freedom from blindness, and freedom from amputation,” said Ms. Domingo. “My older relatives have diabetes, so I’m working hard to break the cycle of this devastating disease in future generations. I want to be around for my grandchildren and great grandchildren,” she said.

The “Two Reasons” campaign includes radio and print public service ads, tip sheets, and posters produced in English, Chinese, Cambodian, Hmong, Korean, Tagalog (for Filipinos), Thai, and Vietnamese. Materials in eight additional languages will be released later this year. Hundreds of public and private partners will help distribute the materials throughout the Asian American and Pacific Islander community. Materials are also available on the NDEP website at


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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