Senator Jay Rockefeller said that today's roundtable discussion in Charleston on how to reduce the impact of diabetes in West Virginia -- which affects more than 1 in 10 adults in the state -- reinforces the need to invest in and support diabetes prevention in West Virginia and other states.
The Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) is sponsoring the event with the West Virginia Bureau of Public Health to share ideas and questions about ways to combat this disease. Dr. Albright, Ph.D., R.D. -- a nationally-recognized authority on the prevention of Type 2 diabetes and Director of the Division of Diabetes Translation at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) -- played a key role in the discussion.
"Diabetes is a statewide epidemic, which is why it's so important that ARC is hosting this roundtable today and working to bring a new spotlight and focus to a disease that affects far too many West Virginians and their families," said Rockefeller. "Dr. Albright is an expert on this disease and I'm thrilled she is here to share some of the best practices that can help our state reduce this serious problem. Nationally, I'm pushing for my bill to help prevent diabetes among millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities. And I'm so proud that West Virginia has started to implement its own diabetes prevention program in the state. Diabetes isn't something we can brush aside. And this forum is an important step forward."
ARC Federal Co-Chair Earl F. Gohl expressed appreciation for Rockefeller's work in addressing diabetes.
"Senator Rockefeller is to be commended for his work on this critical issue which affects the health of thousands of West Virginians," Gohl stated. "We are also very appreciative of Dr. Albright of the CDC coming with us to West Virginia to see first-hand the great work of the diabetes prevention program in Mingo and Logan Counties."
West Virginia has some of the highest diabetes rates in the nation. In 2009, approximately 174,000 adults -- 11 percent of West Virginia adults -- had diabetes. If current trends continue, 1 in 3 children in our state will develop diabetes within his or her lifetime.
The National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP) -- which West Virginia is in the process of implementing -- is a proven strategy that decreases the likelihood of Type 2 diabetes by encouraging those who are pre-diabetic to make lifestyle changes, such as better food choices and more physical activity. It's shown groundbreaking results -- already successfully reducing the onset of Type 2 diabetes in at-risk participants by 58 percent overall and 71 percent in adults over 60 years old.
Rockefeller introduced a bill to extend the NDPP to all seniors and people who are disabled enrolled in the Medicare program -- a change that studies show will improve care and decrease health care costs by reducing the onset of diabetes.
The bill would allow Medicare to implement the diabetes prevention program through community settings like the YMCA, hospital community rooms, local health departments, and local churches -- reaching people at risk for diabetes wherever they live. And it would improve the health of millions of seniors and individuals with disabilities, reduce health costs nationwide, and create jobs through more community health workers.