November marks the annual observance of American Diabetes Month. Sponsored by the American Diabetes Association, this observance aims to focus our nation’s attention on the disease and the tens of millions of Americans affected by it.
Judging by the numbers, it is imperative that individuals are informed about diabetes and the consequences associated with the disease. Data from the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System survey suggests that approximately more than 552,000 adults in Alabama (14.6 percent of the adult population) have been diagnosed with diabetes. However, there are many who are unaware they have the disease. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, an estimated 30 million Americans have diabetes and 84 million have prediabetes.
Diabetes is not just physically costly – complications include heart disease, stroke, amputation, end-stage kidney disease, blindness and even death – it is also economically costly. Individuals with diabetes have medical expenses 2.3 times higher than those who do not have diabetes. Combined, diabetes and prediabetes cost an estimated $5.4 billion each year in Alabama.
While these statistics are alarming, there are programs available to help individuals keep from developing the disease and assist those diagnosed with diabetes to better manage their health. Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPPs) and Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) Programs are available throughout the state and can help reduce the burden caused by the disease. These programs are proven effective for those who regularly attend.
For more information, visit these resources from the Alabama Department of Public Health: alabamapublichealth.gov/diabetes. To access information about DPP, including a map featuring sites throughout the state, click the “Prevention” link in the left-hand column. For information on DSME sites, select the “Self-Management Education” link. More information from ADPH regarding diabetes can be found online at facebook.com/DiabetesInAlabama or twitter.com/DiabetesInAL.