Diabetes Prevention Summit on Tap

How are Delawareans faring with the disease?

There’s good news and bad new regarding diabetes. Here’s the good news: Diabetes may be leveling off, according to a report issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Researchers found that while the number of reported cases has doubled since 1990, the increases seem to have peaked around 2008 and then declined.

Now the bad news: The diabetes epidemic is not yet over. Despite the apparent decline of cases, there are still about 22 million Americans battling the disease. Moreover, the incidence of diabetes continues to increase among African-Americans and Hispanics.

In Delaware, 11.1 percent of adults age 18 and over reported that they had been diagnosed with diabetes in 2014 compared with the national rate of 9.3 percent, according to the Delaware Behavioral Risk Factor Survey (BRFS). That means that more than 80,900 Delaware adults now know they have diabetes. About 55,000 are pre-diabetic.

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And while the number of reported cases leveled off somewhat in 2011–2012 and again in 2013–2014, the latest figures indicate that the prevalence of diabetes in Delaware has almost tripled since 1991 when the rate stood at 4.9 percent.

So is the glass half empty or half full? Don Post likes to look at the brighter side. Post, administrator of the Delaware Diabetes and Heart Disease and Prevention Program, attributes the slight uptick in reported cases of Type 2 diabetes to the state’s aggressive efforts, one of which involves using primary care electronic health records to connect at-risk patients with community prevention and education resources.

“When you rebuild electronic records, you get every person walking through the door,” says Post.

The American Diabetes Association will offer additional ideas regarding diabetes prevention when it hosts a leadership summit on Wednesday, March 9th at the Atlantic Sands and Conference Center in Rehoboth Beach. The event, called Wellness Lives Here/American Diabetes Association Summit, kicks off at 8 a.m. with a healthy breakfast, followed by a program of speakers, the announcement of Delaware’s newest Health Champion designee and a networking lunch.

The keynote presentation will be delivered by Anita P. Raghuwanshi, M.D., of Beebe Healthcare, who will discuss innovations in diabetes care. An interactive roundtable and panel discussion is planned with many leaders from public health and healthcare, including Post, state Sen. Bethany Hall-Long, Ph.D. (University of Delaware), Leela Thomas, Ph.D., (Delaware State University), Catherine A. Salvato, Ed.D., (Bayhealth Medical Center), Robert Bulgarelli, D.O., Highmark Blue Cross Blue Shield, and Christopher Walus, iHeart Media Markets Group.

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Representatives from the association will seek to engage attendees in the Wellness Lives Here initiative with the goal of boosting a culture of wellness in the workplace and beyond. To qualify for the association’s new Health Champion designation, a company or organization must meet the association’s healthy living criteria in the areas of nutrition and weight management, physical activity and organizational well being.

Focusing efforts on the workplace makes sense since the majority of Delawareans diagnosed with diabetes are of working age, says Post.

Attendees will include guests from both the private and public sectors, in the hope of broadening collaboration on diabetes prevention and overall wellness across the state.

“One of those stakeholder groups are the many Delaware businesses, with diabetes impacting productivity, attendance, health care claims and other costs,” says Jennifer Fahsbender, director of community engagement for the American Diabetes Association. “They have a vested interest in healthier workforces and healthier communities.”

A top priority of the summit is to make sure that attendees are poised to engage with the association for Alert Day on March 22 to encourage employees to take the Diabetes Risk Test.

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“There are too many people at risk for diabetes that don’t know it, and we need to change that level of awareness so we can work together for a healthier Delaware,” says Fahsbender.

If you go

What: Wellness Lives Here/American Diabetes Association Summit
Where: The Atlantic Sands and Conference Center, 101 N. Boardwalk, Rehoboth Beach
When: 8 a.m.–noon (Healthy breakfast and box lunch provided)

The event is free and open to anyone interested in diabetes prevention and treatment.

To RSVP, contact Elizabeth Wang at ewant@diabetes.org or (610) 828-5003 ext. 4635. To learn more about workplace wellness, visit www.diabetes.org/wellnessliveshere.

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