As America Earns Failing Grade, American Diabetes Association Launches Movement to Stop Diabetes

Alexandria,
November 2, 2009

Americans earn a failing grade on diabetes awareness, based on survey results released today by the American Diabetes Association. In general, Americans earned a 51% when asked a series of questions about a disease so common that it strikes every 20 seconds. The survey results revealed that many diabetes myths and misconceptions still exist, while the disease’s prevalence continues to rise.

To combat this situation, this November during American Diabetes Month®, the American Diabetes Association is launching a new movement: Stop Diabetes(SM). Americans are encouraged to join the movement to Stop Diabetes and put an end to diabetes’ physical, emotional and economic toll on the U.S.  

For the last 18 months, the American Diabetes Association has reached out to people in communities across the country to better understand Americans’ perceptions of diabetes.

“Many Americans have a very limited understanding of the basic facts about diabetes, as well as the serious consequences for health that accompany the disease,” commented Sue McLaughlin, RD, CDE, President, Health Care & Education, American Diabetes Association.  “Unfortunately, numerous myths about diabetes exist, making it difficult for people to believe the science-based facts, as fear inspiring as they may be.  Denial of diabetes and the promotion of inaccurate information, full of stereotypes and stigma, do not serve anyone well.  The Association’s 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 Myths and Facts:
The American Diabetes Association set out to test a larger segment of the American population with common diabetes myths and facts.  In a recent survey conducted by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Diabetes Association, 2,081 Americans were asked questions to test their diabetes knowledge.  The results showed that several diabetes myths and misconceptions are common and diabetes remains a misunderstood disease.

Myth: Diabetes is not that serious of a disease.

When asked to rank which disease (diabetes, breast cancer, AIDS) was responsible for the greatest number of U.S. deaths each year, not even half of respondents chose diabetes (42%).

Fact: Diabetes causes more deaths a year than breast cancer and AIDS combined.  Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke.

Myth: Eating too much sugar can lead to diabetes.

According to the survey, approximately one third of respondents knew this myth was false (32%).

Fact: No, it cannot.  Type 1 diabetes is caused by genetics and unknown factors that trigger the onset of the disease; type 2 diabetes is caused by genetics and lifestyle factors.  Being overweight does increase your risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and a diet high in calories, whether from sugar or from fat, can contribute to weight gain.  If you have a history of diabetes in your family, eating a healthy meal plan and regular exercise are recommended to manage your weight.

Myth: If you are overweight or obese, you will eventually develop type 2 diabetes.

According the survey, approximately three in five respondents (59%) did not know that this is a false statement.  In addition, more than half (53%) of respondents did not know that risk for developing type 2 diabetes increases with age.

Fact:  Being overweight is a risk factor for developing this disease, but other risk factors such as family history, ethnicity and age also play a role. Unfortunately, too many people disregard the other risk factors for diabetes and think that weight is the only risk factor for type 2 diabetes.  Most overweight people never develop type 2 diabetes, and many people with type 2 diabetes are at a normal weight or only moderately overweight. 

RELATED: Find out your risk for type 2 diabetes.

“Diabetes prevalence continues to be a leading cause of death,” said George Huntley, Chair of the Board of the American Diabetes Association. “In spite of this, our research shows that many people still may not take diabetes seriously; they consider it more of a condition than a disease.  Many also incorrectly believe that if a person with diabetes doesn’t appear to be ill, then their disease must not be serious or damaging.  In fact, 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.  It’s obvious that a more aggressive approach is desperately needed, and that we need to engage more people in the fight to stop diabetes.”

RELATED: See how you score on diabetes myths and facts with the Stop Diabetes widget.

 

Stop Diabetes
The launch of the Stop Diabetes movement aims to stop this deadly disease from stealing moments, hours and days from millions of children and adults; to stop the anxiety, fear and heartache it causes everyday; to stop the blindness and amputations; to stop discrimination against people with diabetes; and to stop it from haunting our children’s future and stealing our loved ones all too soon. 

This will be accomplished by encouraging all people affected with diabetes to join together to share their stories, raise awareness of diabetes and its consequences, to support fundraising efforts in support of diabetes education and research.  Driving the campaign forward is a new series of print and television public service announcements, released today by the Association that bring into focus the toll that diabetes takes on individuals and our healthcare system.  Featuring real people with diabetes and their families, the PSAs bring the reality of living with the disease to life.

The PSA campaign directs people to join the Stop Diabetes movement by visiting StopDiabetes.com  or calling the Association’s National Call Center at 1-800-DIABETES.  Individuals are encouraged to:


• Share. Inspire others to join the movement by sharing their personal story. To kick off the movement, Nutrisystem, the developer of Nutrisystem D, and national sponsor of the Stop Diabetes campaign, will donate $5.00 to the American Diabetes Association, up to $100,000 for each individual who shares a story on stopdiabetes.com through December 31, 2009.  Individuals may also join us on Facebook and Twitter to learn about all the ways to be a part of the Stop Diabetes movement and are encouraged to invite family, friends, and co-workers to join this effort as well. 


• Act. The American Diabetes Association provides many ways to get involved with the fight to stop diabetes, including volunteer opportunities, walks and bikes around the country.


• Learn. The American Diabetes Association has many resources throughout the country to help Stop Diabetes for people who already have diabetes or are at risk for type 2, including lifestyle and motivational information for patients and loved ones.


• Give. The drive to stop diabetes cannot succeed without individuals dedicating time, effort and funds to support the American Diabetes Association’s mission-critical activities in cities and towns across the country.

 

American Diabetes Month Events
Throughout the month of November, events will be taking place across the country to promote diabetes awareness.  To help promote American Diabetes Month and the Stop Diabetes movement, the American Diabetes Association has collaborated Spirit of Women Hospitals, a network of hospitals and healthcare providers across the United States, as well as the Association’s Education Recognition Programs to help increase awareness about diabetes and encourage the public to get involved. 

A complete list of events happening across the U.S. can be found at www.diabetes.org/adm.

 

Stories Already Being Shared
The American Diabetes Association knows that people are likely to take diabetes more seriously when they encounter stories of others who deal with the disease and its consequences on a daily basis.  StopDiabetes.com already features many stories of people who have joined the movement, like:

Kelly of Toledo, Ohio, who six months ago lost her niece, Shelby, to undiagnosed diabetes.  A vibrant, quirky, beautiful, active girl celebrating her 14th birthday, Shelby’s family thought she had contracted the flu, like other members of her family. By the time she was admitted the hospital a few days later, Shelby’s blood sugar level was over 2,000 mg/dl. (The American Diabetes Association recommends a fasting blood glucose of 70-130 mg/dl.) Despite their best efforts, Shelby passed away on March 15, 2009.

Laraine of Tucson, Arizona, lost her son David to type 1 diabetes at the age of 34. He was diagnosed with diabetes before he had even turned a year old. Eventually, his diabetes contributed o a fatal heart attack at a shockingly young age. She wants to find a way to stop this from happening to other parents and children.

Malika of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, struggled with her diagnosis of gestational diabetes throughout two of her pregnancies, including multiple hospitalizations. She later was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. She wants to stop diabetes so that others like her don’t have to struggle with managing the disease or worry about the long term health of their own children, like she now does about her children.

Frank of Rockland, Massachusetts, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes a year ago; by the time he was diagnosed his fasting blood glucose had reached 350 mg/dl and his A1C was more than 12%. (The American Diabetes Association recommends A1C of less than 7% for most people with diabetes.)  With support of his healthcare professionals and his wife, he lost weight, lowered his fasting glucose and A1C into a safe range, bought a Harley Davidson and is loving life.

”We hear stories every day about the tragic toll diabetes takes within every corner of our society,” commented McLaughlin. “Stop Diabetes is a wake up call for the nation. Diabetes kills more people than breast cancer and AIDS combined.  One in three children born today will develop diabetes if this trend continues.  Rather than let these facts scare us into denial and apathy, all Americans need to take a stand to stop diabetes by learning their risks and how they can prevent or manage this serious disease.”

 

Survey Methodology
This research was conducted online within the United States by Harris Interactive on behalf of the American Diabetes Association between October 6-8, 2009 among 2,081 U.S. residents aged 18 or older, including 285 adults who have been told by a health care professional that they have diabetes. No estimates of theoretical sampling error can be calculated; a full methodology is available.

 

Harris Interactive®
Harris Interactive is a global leader in custom market research. With a long and rich history in multimodal research, powered by our science and technology, we assist clients in achieving business results. Harris Interactive serves clients globally through our North American, European and Asian offices and a network of independent market research firms. For more information, please visit www.harrisinteractive.com.

 

The American Diabetes Association is leading the fight to Stop Diabetes and its deadly consequences and fighting for those affected by diabetes. The Association funds research to prevent, cure and manage diabetes; delivers services to hundreds of communities; provides objective and credible information; and gives voice to those denied their rights because of diabetes. Founded in 1940, our mission is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

For more information please call the American Diabetes Association at 1-800-DIABETES (800-342-2383) or visit www.diabetes.org. Information from both these sources is available in English and Spanish.