American Diabetes Association Launches Campaign to “Stop Diabetes”
How much do you know about diabetes? Many Americans do not know much about this disease that strikes someone every 20 seconds in the United States. That is one reason why the American Diabetes Association (ADA) has launched its “Stop Diabetes” campaign as part of American Diabetes Month.
According to the results of a survey conducted by the American Diabetes Association over the last 18 months, Americans have many misconceptions and believe many myths about diabetes. A lack of understanding of the critical nature of the disease, its complications, and increased risks, which include blindness, nerve damage, kidney failure, foot complications, skin infections, heart disease, stroke, gastroparesis, and high blood pressure, mean millions of people are unnecessarily placing themselves and their loved ones in harms way.
In a news release issued by the American Diabetes Association, Sue McLaughlin, RD, CDE, President, Health Care & Education of the ADA, noted that “Unfortunately, numerous myths about diabetes exist, making it difficult for people to believe the science-based facts.” She went on to say that the new “Stop Diabetes” campaign “aims to put a halt to this lack of awareness and misinformation so we can change the direction of diabetes prevalence in this country.”
The survey that was the catalyst for this campaign questioned 2,081 Americans about their knowledge of diabetes. The results showed that myths and misconceptions are common. For example, diabetes causes more deaths per year than AIDS and breast cancer combined, yet only 42 percent of respondents knew diabetes was the most deadly of these three choices.
A popular myth still believed by 68 percent of respondents is that eating too much sugar can lead to diabetes. The fact is that type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors, while type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle choices, including eating a high-calorie diet. However, the excess calories do not have to be from sugar. Fifty-nine percent of respondents did not know that being overweight or obese does not mean someone will eventually develop type 2 diabetes. Although it is true that being overweight is a risk factor for type 2 diabetes, other risk factors are also important, yet many people disregard them.
George Huntley, Chair of the Board of the ADA, noted in the news release that “people we encountered did not believe us when we told them that diabetes, if left untreated, can be deadly. They thought this was an untrue statement.” This misconception and others are the target of the “Stop Diabetes” campaign.
The ADA is launching print and television public service announcements that feature real people who have diabetes. The Association hopes the personal stories of people with diabetes will inspire others to join the movement, volunteer to help stop diabetes, and learn more about the disease. To help get people involved, a list of events celebrating American Diabetes Month can be seen at the ADA website (www.diabetes.org/adm).
American Diabetes Association