'Prevent Diabetes STAT' Initiative Announced by AMA, CDC

Troy Brown, RN

March 12, 2015

The American Medical Association (AMA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are taking urgent steps to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes, they announced at a teleconference held March 12.

The two organizations are launching the "Prevent Diabetes STAT" initiative, which calls on physicians, care teams, and other stakeholders to take specific actions to prevent type 2 diabetes.

Prevent Diabetes STAT: Screen, Test, Act - Today, is a multiyear initiative that builds on work the CDC and AMA have already begun to identify more Americans with prediabetes and stop its progression to type 2 diabetes.

"Dismal Statistics"

"This isn't just a concern — it's a crisis," AMA President Robert M. Wah, MD, said at the teleconference. "It's not only taking a physical and emotional toll on people living with prediabetes but it also takes an economic toll on our country. More than $245 billion each year in healthcare spending and reduced productivity is directly linked to diabetes. The AMA and CDC believe it's time to bring an end to these dismal statistics."

Type 2 diabetes is one of the most debilitating chronic diseases in the United States and is a leading cause of suffering and death. More than 86 million Americans have prediabetes, and almost 90% of them are unaware of it. One of three individuals are at risk for developing it in their lifetime, according to an AMA news release.

Individuals with prediabetes have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. Research has shown that 15% to 30% of overweight people with prediabetes will go on to develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years unless they lose weight by eating healthy and increasing their physical activity, the AMA said.

Immediate Action Needed

"The time to act is now. We need a national, concerted effort to prevent additional cases of type 2 diabetes in our nation — and we need it now," said Ann Albright, PhD, RD, director of the CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation, in the news release. "We have the scientific evidence and we've built the infrastructure to do something about it, but far too few people know they have prediabetes and that they can take action to prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes."

"It's time that the nation comes together to take immediate action to help prevent diabetes before it starts," Dr Wah said in the release. "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."

New Guidance for Healthcare and Communities

The CDC and the AMA have been working together for the past 2 years, and each organization has taken separate actions as well. In 2012, the CDC began its National Diabetes Prevention Program, which was based on research led by the National Institutes of Health. That research showed that high-risk individuals who took part in lifestyle change programs, such as those recognized by the CDC, experienced a significant reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. There are now more than 500 such programs across the country, including online programs.

In 2013, the AMA started its Improving Health Outcomes initiative, focused on preventing both type 2 diabetes and heart disease. That effort included partnering with the US YMCA to increase the number of physicians who screen individuals for prediabetes and refer them to diabetes prevention programs at local YMCAs that participate in the CDC's recognition program.

The partnership included 11 physician practice pilot sites in Florida, Delaware, Indiana, and Minnesota, where care teams helped the AMA and CDC develop a toolkit for physicians and other healthcare providers. The toolkit provides guidance on the best methods for screening and referring high-risk patients to local diabetes prevention programs. The AMA plans to build on its YMCA partnership by adding more states to the Prevent Diabetes STAT initiative in the future.

Lifestyle Changes Critical

Medications play an important role in the management of some patients with prediabetes and type 2 diabetes, but lifestyle changes are critical, Dr Albright explained in the teleconference. "It's imperative that we have a foundation of lifestyle."

"What we need to do as a country is make it easier, and more of the social norm, for us to be engaging in physical activity and in healthy eating," she said.

Additional information for physicians and patients is available online. In addition, an online screening tool for patients can be found at https://www.preventdiabetesstat.org/.


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