‘Prevent Diabetes STAT’: AMA, CDC sound alarm

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the American Medical Association (AMA) have joined forces to work together on a new program entitled “Prevent Diabetes STAT: Screen, Test, Act – Today™.” The multi-year initiative aims to reduce one of our nation’s leading causes of death, type 2 diabetes. With over 86 million Americans currently living with prediabetes and nearly 90 percent of them unaware of it, this new program seeks to identify high-risk patients and refer them to diabetes prevention programs in their communities.

“It’s time that the nation comes together to take immediate action to help prevent diabetes before it starts,” said AMA President Robert M. Wah, M.D. “Type 2 diabetes is one of our nation’s leading causes of suffering and death—with one out of three people at risk of developing the disease in their lifetime. 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.”

At-risk population

Individuals with prediabetes are those currently living with blood glucose levels that are higher-than-normal, but which are not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. According to the CDC, research shows that 15 percent to 30 percent of overweight people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within five years unless they lose weight through healthy eating and increased physical activity. Evidence has shown that high-risk individuals who participated in lifestyle change programs experienced a significant reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes.

To help individuals identify whether they may be at risk, the AMA and CDC have together developed a toolkit to serve as a guide for physicians and other health care providers on the best methods to screen and refer high-risk. There is also an online screening tool for patients at www.preventdiabetesstat.org to help them determine their risk for type 2 diabetes. Once individuals are identified, the new online resource also provides physicians additional information on patient referral to diabetes prevention programs.

Programs in place

This new effort builds on other programs put in place by the AMA and the CDC. Both groups have spent the past two years laying the groundwork for this combined national effort. The CDC in 2012 launched its National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP), which encourages collaboration between federal agencies, community-based organizations, employers, insurers, health care professionals, academia, and other stakeholders to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes among people with prediabetes in the United States. Additionally, the Improving Health Outcomes initiative was launched by the AMA in 2013, focusing on preventing type 2 diabetes and heart disease. The AMA partnered with the YMCA of the USA in the initiative, with the goal of increasing the number of physicians who screen patients for prediabetes and refer them to diabetes prevention programs offered by local YMCAs that are part of the CDC’s recognition program.