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  [ 72 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • November 14, 2002

On World Diabetes Day, I am pleased to join my friends and colleagues at the Diabetes Federation of Ireland to raise awareness about preventing and controlling diabetes.

Today in the United States, Ireland and worldwide, diabetes is a serious public health threat. Type 2 diabetes -- the most common form -- comprises about 95 percent of the diabetes cases in America. This disease used to be seen only in adulthood, but now, more and more children and teens are developing type 2 diabetes due to excess weight, lack of exercise and poor eating habits.

Roughly 1 million people age 20 and older become diabetic every year, and the number of people with diabetes in the United States rose by nearly 50 percent during the past decade. The increases are even higher among women and racial and ethnic minorities.

Recent statistics indicate that 17 million Americans have diabetes, and 16 million more have pre-diabetes - an increasingly common condition in which blood glucose (sugar) levels are higher than normal, but not yet diabetic. Medically, this is called impaired glucose tolerance or impaired fasting glucose. Studies have shown that most people with pre-diabetes go on to develop type 2 diabetes in 10 years.

The good news is that if you have pre-diabetes, you can reduce the risk of developing diabetes and even return to normal blood glucose levels. Research has clearly shown that modest weight loss and moderate physical activity can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes.

Equally important is preventing complications from diabetes, such as heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, nerve problems, gum infections and amputations. One can prevent or delay these complications by learning how to control blood glucose, blood pressure, and the bad form of cholesterol, or LDL.

To promote a comprehensive approach to diabetes care, HHS' National Diabetes Education Program has developed the "ABCs of Diabetes" campaign. The A stands for the A1C or hemoglobin A1C test, which measures average blood glucose over the previous three months; B is for blood pressure; and C is for cholesterol. Research shows that aggressively treating these three risk factors can lower the risk of heart disease -- the main killer of people with diabetes -- and save lives.

The Bush Administration is committed to fighting diabetes and pre-diabetes, both through public education and through effective federal funding of vital medical research. As part of our nationwide Prevention Initiative, we are encouraging Americans of all ages and backgrounds to take simple steps to safeguard their health. During November's National Diabetes Month, we urge everyone to learn their risks for developing type 2 diabetes and help fight this disease by making healthy lifestyle choices, including eating nutritiously, getting regular physical activity, and maintaining proper weight. Working together, this is a battle we can and will win.

Editors Note:

As part of its World Diabetes Day initiative, the Diabetes Federation of Ireland on Thursday conducted a diabetes screening at Leinster House, where the National Parliament of Ireland is located. Secretary Thompson observed the screening and participated in a press conference at Marrion Square's Montclare Hotel in Dublin, Ireland. Also in attendance were Richard J. Egan, American ambassador to Ireland; Senator Mary Henry, president of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland; and Dr. Chris Thompson, chairman of the Diabetes Federation of Ireland.

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