ADA, Okla. - American Indians and Alaska Natives are 2.3 times as likely to
have diabetes as non-Hispanic whites of similar age. To respond to this
rapidly growing problem, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services'
National Diabetes Education Program launched a public awareness campaign
called "We Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes" at the new Chickasaw Nation
Health System's Diabetes Care Center, an annex of the Carl Albert Indian
Health Facility in Ada.
The campaign promotes the message that American Indians and Alaska Natives
can fight the high incidence of Type 2 diabetes in their communities if
they take steps to lose a modest amount of weight by moving more, eating
less and making healthy food choices.
"We are asking American Indians and Alaska Natives to fight back because of
their increased risk for Type 2 diabetes. We're showing them how to take
action to prevent or delay the disease," said Dr. Griffin Rodgers, deputy
director of the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases (NIDDK) at NIH. "The key is regular physical activity and modest
weight loss - as little as 5 to 7 percent of your body weight. We want to
encourage people to take this message of good health to their families and
their communities, so we can put an end to the diabetes epidemic."
About 40 percent of adults ages 40 to 74 - or 41 million people - have
pre-diabetes, a condition that raises a person's risk of developing Type 2
diabetes, heart disease and stroke.
"We Have the Power to Prevent Diabetes" is part of NDEP's "Small Steps. Big
Rewards. Prevent Type 2 Diabetes" campaign, which targets groups at highest
risk for diabetes. The campaign uses "real life" testimonials from American
Indians and Alaska Natives who have made lifestyle changes to prevent
diabetes and encourages others to take up the charge.
"Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our communities, especially for
high-risk groups," said Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, director of the National
Institutes of Health (NIH). "If we are going to make a difference, we need
to reach people where they live, work and play, with information that is
consumer-friendly and practical based on the proven science of diabetes
prevention. Our goal is to empower those at high risk for Type 2 diabetes
to take steps to prevent this devastating disease."
Among testimonials featured in the campaign is one from Glenda Thomas
Fifer, a participant in the Diabetes Prevention Program clinical trial from
the Gila River Indian Community. She said: "I know everyone can do it, once
they make up their mind. A lot of people out there know it runs in their
family and they think, 'OK, I'm going to get it.' No, it's not so. You can
prevent it. If I can do it, you can do it." These motivational messages and
healthy lifestyle advice are used in the campaign's tip sheets, radio and
print public service announcements and posters. Hundreds of public and
private partners will help to distribute the materials throughout the
American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
"Diabetes is ravaging our community. We, as Native Americans, must spread
the word about the many ways we can beat this devastating disease," said
Tom John, director of the Chickasaw Nation Health System's Diabetes Care
Center, who helped develop the campaign.
Dr. Yvette Roubideaux, faculty at the University of Arizona's College of
Public Health and chair of NDEP's American Indian and Alaska Native Work
Group, said the partnership of community-based healthy living programs,
such as the Chickasaw Nation Wellness Center and a national public
awareness campaign, is a prescription for making real inroads to stem the
diabetes epidemic in the American Indian and Alaska Native communities.
"This will make a resounding difference in the lives of American Indian and
Alaska Native families," said Roubideaux, a past president of the
Association of American Indian Physicians (AAIP).
"This is a job all of us must take part in. American Indians and Alaska
Natives do not have to suffer from diabetes and its complications. Knowing
how to eat healthy and increase physical activity to lose a small amount of
weight are the keys to longer, healthier lives. We must get the word out
that Type 2 diabetes prevention is proven, possible, and powerful," said
HHS' NDEP is a federally-funded program, co-sponsored by the National
Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention,
and is a leading source for information about diabetes care and prevention.
NDEP has more than 200 partner organizations that form a network to reach
the health care community and those affected by diabetes at the federal,
state, and local levels.
The Chickasaw Nation Health System is part of the NDEP's partnership
network. Its new Diabetes Care Center provides the Chickasaw Nation with a
comprehensive program for helping to control and prevent Type 2 diabetes.
The 8,500-square-foot center includes a patient exam space, a fitness room,
a patient education conference room, a teaching kitchen and administrative
space. A fully-certified laboratory and pharmacy are also housed there.
For more information about the diabetes prevention campaign and free
materials, including tip sheets and the GAMEPLAN for Preventing Type 2
Diabetes - tools to help people lose weight, get active and track their
progress - visit the NDEP Web site at www.ndep.nih.gov or call (800)