Slowing Diabetes Through Public Policy


Today’s guest blog comes to us from Robert Lash, MD, the Clinical Affairs Core Committee Chair for the Endocrine Society, the world’s oldest, largest and most active organization devoted to research on hormones and the clinical practice of endocrinology.  Today, the Endocrine Society’s membership consists of more than 18,000 scientists, physicians, educators, nurses and students in 122 countries. Society members represent all basic, applied and clinical interests in endocrinology.

As we mark Diabetes Awareness Month, I worry about how many more people will be touched by this chronic condition in the coming year.

Three in 10 American adults already have prediabetes, according to the Endocrine Society’s Endocrine Facts & Figures Report. That’s an estimated 86 million Americans. Without intervention, nearly a third are likely to develop Type 2 diabetes within five years.

Millions who are at risk need support to embrace healthy eating habits and exercise. The National Diabetes Prevention Program has made important strides in tackling the problem, but this program and other preventive measures require sustained federal funding to succeed.

That’s why the Endocrine Society hosted a Congressional briefing on November 4 to draw attention to the scope of the diabetes epidemic. Representatives from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Diabetes Education Program, as well as diabetes patient advocate and Miss America 1999, Nicole Johnson, DrPH, MPH, MA, participated. The Society is calling on Congress to hold a hearing this month so the diabetes community can share how key pieces of legislation stand to benefit millions.

The briefing also highlighted a bill that would ensure that older individuals who have diabetes could maintain access to the latest technologies. Medicare currently doesn’t provide coverage for continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) devices that many people with diabetes use to manage their blood sugar levels. No one should lose access to lifesaving technologies on their 65th birthday simply because they cannot afford the out-of-pocket costs. The Medicare CGM Access Act of 2015 would ensure seniors maintain access.

In the meantime, we know people with diabetes need the support of those closest to them. The Society’s public education arm, the Hormone Health Network, released a free interactive diabetes education tool this week. D.A.I.L.Y. (Diabetes Awareness Information for Loved Ones and You) helps people with type 2 diabetes and their loved ones integrate strategies for managing diabetes into their daily lives. With these resources, we can encourage each other to maintain the healthy lifestyle needed to keep diabetes in check.

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