For Immediate Release
November 16, 2007

KDHE Office of Communications, 785-296-0461

November is American Diabetes Month

Racial and Ethnic Minorities at Greatest Risk

Over 216,000 adults in Kansas have diabetes, and roughly 65,000 of them don’t know it because they haven’t been diagnosed. Diabetes is the eighth-leading cause of death in the state.

The Kansas Department of Health and Environment (KDHE) and the American Diabetes Association are calling attention to the “Many Faces of Diabetes” during November, which is American Diabetes Month.

“The faces of diabetes are as diverse as those of our Kansas population,” said Roderick L. Bremby, Secretary of KDHE. “They include family members, employers and employees, and the young and the old. Members of racial and ethnic communities are at greater risk of developing diabetes.”

Sharon Goolsby of the KDHE Center for Health Disparities points out that 12.9 percent of adult African-Americans in Kansas surveyed reported having been diagnosed with diabetes – more than any other racial or ethnic group . This compares with 6.4 percent for whites in the same survey. In addition, 10.7 percent of adult Hispanics have diagnosed diabetes as compared to 6.7 percent of adult non-Hispanics.

“Like many other chronic health conditions, diabetes is connected very strongly with racial and ethnic background, along with education and household income levels,” Goolsby said.

Nearly 50 percent of all Kansans are at increased risk of having undiagnosed diabetes, according to Kate Watson, Program Manager of the Diabetes Prevention and Control Program at KDHE.

“Age, weight, and lack of exercise are all risk factors for developing diabetes, and more than 50 percent of Kansas adults who have been diagnosed with diabetes are also obese,” said Watson. “By maintaining a healthy lifestyle, it is possible to prevent the development of type 2 diabetes and complications of diabetes .”

There are several types of diabetes, and each is marked by abnormally high levels of glucose, or sugar, in the blood. Someone who has diabetes might have some, all or none of the symptoms, which can include:

The only way to know if you have diabetes is to be diagnosed by a doctor. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to heart attack, stroke, blindness and other serious health problems.

The Diabetes Prevention and Control Program has implemented the Kansas Diabetes Quality of Care Project to assure that Kansans with diabetes are receiving proper care to prevent or reduce complications of diabetes.

The project began in January 2005 and is now in effect in 44 healthcare organizations located in 80 sites across the state. About 350 health care providers are participating. Each site tracks indicators for making improvements in care provided to patients with diabetes. Currently, there are about 8,000 diabetes patients whose care is being tracked.

Diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States and around the world. According to the American Diabetes Association, one in four Americans has diabetes or is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Nearly 21 million children and adults in the U.S. are living with the disease.

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