Diabetes Advocates Urged Members of Congress to Fund Diabetes Research and Programs


Michelle Kirkwood

Alexandria, Virginia
April 8, 2016

Diabetes Advocates Were Joined in Washington by 34 Professional Football Players to Call Attention to Diabetes Epidemic

Yesterday, more than 100 diabetes advocates and professional football players convened in Washington for the American Diabetes Association's (Association) Capitol Hill Advocacy Day and held more than 125 meetings with members of Congress and their staff. The advocates included adults and children living with type 1 and type 2 diabetes, as well as family members of people with diabetes and health care professionals. They were joined by 34 professional football players to help spotlight diabetes – one of America's leading chronic health crises. The football players were in Washington to announce the Association's new initiative, Team Tackle, which brings together professional football players with the Association to raise awareness about diabetes and prediabetes.

During yesterday's press conference on Capitol Hill, the Association presented its petition with more than 79,000 signatures to U.S. Sens. Jeanne Shaheen (D-NH) and Susan M. Collins (R-ME), co-chairs of the Senate Diabetes Caucus. Both Sens. Shaheen and Collins spoke during the press conference and expressed their continued commitment to support funding for federal diabetes research and programs.

The Association's Stop Diabetes petition contains signatures from more than 79,000 people urging Congress to:

  1. increase funding for the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) at the National Institutes of Health;
  2. fully support the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC's) Division of Diabetes Translation (DDT); and
  3. provide more resources for the CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP).

Nearly 30 million Americans have diabetes, and an additional 86 million Americans have prediabetes, which puts them at greater risk for developing type 2 diabetes. People with diabetes can face devastating complications including kidney failure, heart disease, stroke, blindness and lower-limb amputations.

"Federal funding for diabetes research and programs is critical for us to make progress –reducing the incidence of diabetes, advancing the treatment protocols for diabetes, preventing the complications of diabetes and helping continue the quest for a cure," said Kevin L. Hagan, CEO of the American Diabetes Association. "We ask Congress to increase funding for diabetes research and programs so together we can improve the health and lives of millions."

The NIDDK is the primary federal agency that conducts research to find a cure and advance treatments for diabetes. Increasing funding to $2.165 billion in fiscal year 2017 will provide NIDDK with funds to support continued research to prevent diabetes, improve care, prevent the severe complications of diabetes, and continue the search for a cure.

The CDC's Division of Diabetes Translation';s mission is to eliminate the preventable burden of diabetes. In order to achieve this mission, DDT provides essential information and education about diabetes risk, complications, treatment and management, and produces innovative translational research and surveillance. The Association seeks $170.129 million for DDT in fiscal year 2017.

The National DPP provides cost-effective, highly successful diabetes prevention programs for people with prediabetes. It is based on a clinical, lifestyle intervention program proven to reduce the risk of diabetes by 58 percent for adults and 71 percent for seniors. Increasing fiscal year 2017 funding for the National DPP to $25 million will allow the CDC to expand the reach of this highly effective program.

"With increased funding support for research and programs we can change the future of diabetes," said Gina Gavlak, chair of the Association's National Advocacy Committee. Gavlak is also the CEO of a charitable medical clinic, an emergency room nurse and a person living with type 1 diabetes. "These efforts can make a difference in the daily lives of many," she said.

During yesterday's press conference, Team Tackle members Mike Golic (sports commentator and former player for Houston, Philadelphia and Miami), Dont'a Hightower (New England) and Lorenzo Alexander (free agent) shared their personal connections to diabetes, and their commitment to raising awareness about diabetes through the Team Tackle initiative.

In addition to the Capitol Hill press conference, the Association, diabetes advocates and Team Tackle members participated in panel discussions at the White House an event that examined the current state of diabetes prevention, research and treatment efforts. Association speakers included Hagan, Robin Richardson, chair of the Board for the Association, and Gavlak. Team Tackle speakers included Rashad Jennings (New York), Aaron Murray (Kansas City) and Sam Acho (Chicago). The event was livestreamed from 2:00-4:30 p.m. EDT at WhiteHouse.gov/live, and is available in the White House video gallery archives.

About the American Diabetes Association

Nearly half of American adults have diabetes or prediabetes; more than 30 million adults and children have diabetes; and every 21 seconds, another individual is diagnosed with diabetes in the U.S. Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization whose mission is to prevent and cure diabetes, and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes. The ADA drives discovery by funding research to treat, manage and prevent all types of diabetes, as well as to search for cures; raises voice to the urgency of the diabetes epidemic; and works to safeguard policies and programs that protect people with diabetes. In addition, the ADA supports people living with diabetes, those at risk of developing diabetes, and the health care professionals who serve them through information and programs that can improve health outcomes and quality of life. For more information, please call the ADA at 1-800-DIABETES (1-800-342-2383) or visit diabetes.org. Information from both of these sources is available in English and Spanish. Find us on Facebook (American Diabetes Association), Twitter (@AmDiabetesAssn) and Instagram (@AmDiabetesAssn)