Millions of American Indians and Alaska Natives at Increased Risk for Type 2 Diabetes

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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. 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' (HHS) National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) launched a public awareness campaign August 10, 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, Oklahoma.

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 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.

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"Diabetes is a growing epidemic in our communities, especially for high risk groups," Dr. Elias A. Zerhouni, Director of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) said. "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."

"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," Dr. Griffin Rodgers, Deputy Director of the National Institutes of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at NIH said. "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."

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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 website at www.ndep.nih.gov or call 1-800-438-5383

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