Even as we learn more about type 2 diabetes, that increase in information is not being taken as seriously as it should be, according to data presented at a recent meeting of the American Association of Diabetes Educators.
Between 2008 and 2011, data showed that more people-76 percent of Hispanics and 86 percent of blacks, compared to 61 and 70 percent during the previous survey-were aware that diabetes can be prevented. But at the same time, fewer considered diabetes to be a serious disease.
The surveys were from the National Diabetes Education Program, established in 1997 as a partnership of the National Institutes of Health, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and more than 200 public and private organizations to help improve diabetes management while reducing deaths and complications from the disease.
The program uses the data it compiles to establish education programs that target weak spots to better reach more people more effectively.
“These survey results provide information that helps the NDEP take the next steps in developing tools, web information and future applications and to develop strategic plans for diabetes educators to use in the primary prevention of diabetes,” said Linda Siminerio, executive director of the University of Pittsburgh Diabetes Institute.
Survey participants included those with diabetes, those with pre-diabetes, those at risk and others. While more people reported knowledge of A1c numbers, pre-diabetes and diabetes prevention, more also said they did not consider diabetes to be a serious disease, a result that Siminerio called “abysmal,” while calling for increased education on the front.
“It’s a little disappointing,” added Joanne Gallivan, director of the NDEP. “We need to emphasize the importance of diabetes as a serious disease in all populations. The fact that the number is going down is certainly something we have to pay attention to.”
Also seen as bad news, fewer of those surveyed realized that they were at a high risk of developing diabetes, or that they could delay or prevent the disease through specific lifestyle changes.
“We were surprised people at high risk don’t understand they’re at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The important message we need to get across is that you can delay or prevent type 2 diabetes,” Gallivan said.
When it came to what issues people surveyed saw as the most serious health problems associated with diabetes, blindness topped the list, followed by amputation, kidney disease, heart conditions, death, heart attack, foot ulcers, cardiovascular disease, stroke, and hypertension.