With more than 86 million Americans living with prediabetes and nearly 90% of them unaware of it, the American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) announced in March that they have joined forces to take urgent action to prevent diabetes and are urging others to join in this critical effort.
Prevent Diabetes STAT: Screen, Test, Act – Today™, is a multi-year initiative that expands on the robust work each organization has already begun to reach more Americans with prediabetes and stop the progression to type 2 diabetes, one of the nation’s most debilitating chronic diseases. Through this initiative, the AMA and CDC are sounding an alarm and shining a light on prediabetes as a critical and serious medical condition.
“It’s time that the nation comes together to take immediate action to help prevent diabetes before it starts,” says AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD. “Type 2 diabetes is one of our nation’s leading causes of suffering and death—with one out of three people at risk of developing the disease in their lifetime. To address and reverse this alarming national trend, America needs frontline physicians and other health care professionals as well as key stakeholders such as employers, insurers, and community organizations to mobilize and create stronger linkages between the care delivery system, our communities, and the patients we serve.”
People with prediabetes have higher-than-normal blood glucose levels but not high enough yet to be considered type 2 diabetes. Research shows that 15% to 30% of overweight people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years unless they lose weight through healthy eating and increased physical activity.
As an immediate result of this partnership, the AMA and CDC have co-developed a toolkit to serve as a guide for physicians and other health care providers on the best methods to screen and refer high-risk patients to diabetes prevention programs in their communities. The toolkit along with additional information on how physicians and other key stakeholders can Prevent Diabetes STAT is available online at www.preventdiabetesstat.org.
Over the past two years, both the CDC and the AMA have been laying the groundwork for this national effort. In 2012, the CDC launched its National Diabetes Prevention Program based on research led by the National Institutes of Health, which showed that high-risk individuals who participated in lifestyle change programs, like those recognized by the CDC, saw a significant reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. Today, there are more than 500 of these programs across the country, including online options.
The AMA launched its Improving Health Outcomes initiative in 2013 aimed at preventing both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. That work includes a partnership with the YMCA of the USA to increase the number of physicians who screen patients for prediabetes and refer them to diabetes prevention programs offered by local YMCAs that are part of the CDC’s recognition program. This joint effort included 11 physician practice pilot sites in four states, where care teams helped to inform the development of the AMA and CDC’s toolkit. In the coming months, the AMA will be identifying states in which to strengthen the linkages between the clinical care setting and communities to reduce the incidence of diabetes.
“Long-term, we are confident that this important and necessary work will improve health outcomes and reduce the staggering burden associated with the public health epidemic of type 2 diabetes,” says Wah.