In November, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases took part in commemorating National Diabetes Month through a campaign urging people to consider whether they are at risk for type 2 diabetes and, if so, to set goals and make a plan to prevent the disease and its complications.
To that end, the National Diabetes Education Program, a collaboration between the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, created a series of tips, tools and videos to help people deal with the difficult daily task of preventing or treating diabetes. These materials were created using evidence collected through the NIH’s Diabetes Prevention Program and other studies.
Yet clearly, diabetes isn’t only a problem in November, just as kidney diseases shouldn’t only be discussed in March, and awareness of digestive diseases shouldn’t only be promoted in May. At NIDDK, as part of NIH, we conduct research and promote understanding of how to prevent or treat these diseases all year long.
These special months, however, serve as a time when organizations work together to provide a comprehensive and unified message, one that strengthens all voices to reap lasting public health benefits. Last month, we shined a spotlight on diabetes and encouraged people to think about the disease and ask pertinent questions: Do I have any risk factors for diabetes, such as a family history of the disease? Should I see my healthcare provider to get tested? What are some of the lifestyle changes I can make to prevent type 2 diabetes, and how can I make them?
More than one quarter of the nearly 26 million Americans estimated to have diabetes do not know they have the disease. Months that highlight diseases can serve as a wake-up call, and hopefully lead to better health. Thanks to research—including the finding that intensive control of glucose halves kidney disease in type 1 diabetes, which you can read more about later in this issue—we know that early treatment can forestall and even prevent many complications of diabetes.
These months can also be a time to renew support for family and friends at risk for or with diabetes or kidney or digestive diseases. These months may spark people to do something to better their health or that of someone they love.
The message that we send during these special months is more than just the cold facts about a disease. We translate the results of our research into methods of prevention and treatment. We say: You can be proactive in improving your health, and here are the tools to set and achieve your goals. It’s a message we strive to make resonate throughout the year.
In good health,
Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers, M.D., M.A.C.P.
Director, National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases