National Diabetes Month

A majority of Americans recognize the threat diabetes poses to the nation’s health and have a solid understanding about the disease and its consequences, according to a new survey from UnitedHealth Group.

November is National Diabetes Month – an opportunity for people to turn awareness into action and play a part in helping to tackle the epidemic, which is taking a toll on the health and financial well-being of individuals, families, communities, businesses and the nation’s health system.

UnitedHealth Group’s national survey, conducted via telephone with more than 1,000 U.S. adults age 18 and older, found that:

  • 92 percent of respondents know there is a difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes;
  • 82 percent recognize that type 2 diabetes is largely preventable;
  • 73 percent believe they will not necessarily get diabetes just because it runs in their family;
  • 60 percent know the definition of the term “pre-diabetes”;
  • 84 percent are familiar with leading diabetes risk factors including: being overweight (80 percent), a family history of diabetes (76 percent), lack of exercise (74 percent), high blood pressure (59 percent), high cholesterol (58 percent), and being age 45 or older (48 percent); and
  • 85 percent have had their blood sugar level tested and know the result.
  • Complete survey results can be found here (

“People are taking notice that we face a public health crisis in the form of obesity, prediabetes and diabetes, so the opportunity now exists to turn awareness into actions like eating healthier, increasing physical activity, being tested for risk factors or joining prevention programs,” said Deneen Vojta, M.D., senior vice president of UnitedHealth Group and chief clinical officer of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA). “Our national conversation around the diabetes epidemic has entered a new era; it’s time national actions do the same.”

To learn more about what Americans have to say about the threat diabetes poses to the nation’s health, visit:

Reversing a Preventable Epidemic

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are about 26 million American adults with diabetes. More than 90 percent of them suffer from type 2 diabetes, the often preventable form of the disease. Currently about 35 percent of the U.S. adult population has pre-diabetes, putting 79 million Americans at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization research shows that more than half of all Americans will have diabetes or pre-diabetes by the end of this decade.

“By 2021, about 40 million American adults will have diabetes and another 100 million will be diagnosed with pre-diabetes – at a cost of $3.5 trillion over the next decade,” said Tom Beauregard, executive vice president of UnitedHealth Group and executive director of the UnitedHealth Center for Health Reform & Modernization. “Given these figures, it’s clear there is a diabetes time bomb ticking in America, due in large part to the escalating obesity rates in our country. Practical steps can be taken, however, to defuse this time bomb.”

Solid evidence has shown that early and aggressive intervention can reverse the disease’s course for people with pre-diabetes and reduce its devastating impact on people already diagnosed. Lifestyle changes and a 5- to 7-percent weight reduction can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in people with pre-diabetes.

The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA) is an employer- and community-based initiative aimed at tipping the scales against the epidemic of type 2 diabetes, prediabetes and obesity. The DPCA was launched in April 2010 through a partnership with UnitedHealth Group and the Y of the USA. It has since expanded to include Albertsons, Cub Pharmacy, Kroger, Rite Aid, Safeway, Shop n Save and Winn-Dixie.

One or both DPCA core programs, the Diabetes Prevention Program and the Diabetes Control Program, are available at no out-of-pocket cost to participants enrolled in employer-provided health insurance plans in select markets through UnitedHealthcare and Medica, They are:

• The Diabetes Prevention Program, which is an innovative lifestyle coaching program conducted in a group setting through the Y that helps people with prediabetes and who are at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes prevent or delay the onset of the disease through healthy eating, increased physical activity, and other lifestyle changes. It is a year-long program with 16 weekly sessions and then monthly follow-up. The program is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC); and

• The Diabetes Control Program, which offers private, one-on-one consultation with pharmacists who provide education and support to help people with diabetes better control their condition and reduce the risk of developing complications from diabetes.

The DPCA programs are based on studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC and other federal agencies. Since the launch of the DPCA, its two signature programs have expanded to reach more than 7.8 million people.

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