Fall 2008 Vol. 1 No. 1
Topic of the Quarter: Diabetes
Diabetes, the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, accounts for more than 200,000 deaths and also causes blindness, kidney failure, and lower-limb amputations among other ailments. Treating diabetes costs $116 billion annually—more than 5 percent of total health care spending—with a further $58 billion in indirect economic costs. States pay for a significant amount of the diabetes treatment burden through their Medicaid programs, state employee health benefits and programs for the uninsured. Many cases of diabetes are preventable.
Approximately 24 million people in the United States have diabetes, and a quarter of adults have prediabetes, putting them at high risk to develop diabetes. Yet, a quarter of those with diabetes and at least four-fifths with prediabetes may be undiagnosed. Ethnic minorities are at particularly high risk for diabetes.
Diabetes takes two forms. Type 1 diabetes, which typically appears in children, makes up the majority of adolescent cases and is not preventable. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for more than 90 percent of diabetes cases, is generally associated with obesity or lack of physical activity. Although it occurs most often in those over age 40, it increasingly affects children, adolescents and younger adults.
Type 2 diabetes generally can be prevented through regular physical activity, proper nutrition and weight control. These steps—along with monitoring and regulating blood-glucose levels, controlling cholesterol and blood pressure, and preventive screening of the feet and eyes—also can help control diabetes. Through increased prevention, early diagnosis and treatment, the costs of diabetes can be greatly reduced, and people with diabetes can live healthier, longer lives.
Resources on Diabetes
NCSL Diabetes Overview and Diabetes Insurance Coverage, CDC,
Healthy People 2010, Healthfinder.gov , and the American Diabetes Association
Upcoming Events and NCSL Resources
NCSL Fall Forum and Health Policy Preconference, December 10-13 in Atlanta, Ga.
NCSL's Fall Forum will take place in Atlanta, Georgia from Dec. 10-13. This annual event gathers state legislators and legislative staff to discuss trends in state and federal policy, share information and develop NCSL policies. Dr. Julie Gerberding, executive director of the CDC, will provide the keynote address on Dec. 12. Go here for more information and to register for the Forum.
The NCSL Health Program and Women's Legislative Network are presenting the Health Policy Preconference at the Fall Forum on Dec. 10 and 11. They will cover issues of health reform and women's health, focusing on chronic diseases. Go here for more information on the preconference and other events at the Fall Forum. The full health agenda for the NCSL Fall Forum can be found here.
NCSL Resources Web Pages
Health Menu Page
Public Health Menu Page
Chronic Disease Information Page
Healthy Eating and Physical Activity Page
Wellness Overview Page
In the News
HHS Releases Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans
Physical activity is a crucial component in maintaining wellness, and on October 7th, for the first time, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services released its physical activity guidelines for Americans of all ages and abilities. It recommends that children get an hour of moderate to vigorous activity each day and that adults get two and one half hours of moderate to vigorous activity per week, within any physical limitations or doctor's guidance.
Time to Get Your Flu Vaccine
As the leaves change color and fall to the ground, it's time to get your flu vaccine. Anyone can be vaccinated to reduce the risk of getting influenza. Vaccination is strongly recommended for children older than 6 months, pregnant women, people over age 50 years old, those with chronic illnesses, health care professionals and those who work with children. Every year, the flu vaccine saves lives, time and money.
November Is American Diabetes Month
Diabetes affects more than 20 million Americans, and more than 50 million are at risk of developing diabetes; many are undiagnosed. Left untreated, diabetes can cause disability and death. Diabetes usually can be effectively managed to reduce both damage and cost. The risk of getting diabetes can be lessened through physical activity and proper nutrition. This year World Diabetes Day, Nov. 14, focused on diabetes in children and adolescents.
Wellness Programs Are a Sound Investment for Employers
A study by Blue Cross/Blue Shield of North Carolina indicates that offering comprehensive wellness programs through the workplace can reduce health costs and missed days by as much as 30 percent. The study found that employers saved an average of $3.14 for every $1 spent on a wellness program.
Public Health Project Partner News
NCSL collaborates with other national organizations, including the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices, the Association of State and Territorial Health Officers and the Society for Public Health Education.
Shaping a Healthy America: A Decision-Making Guide
This website from the National Governors Association Center for Best Practices provides policymakers with a user-friendly guide to policy options to promote physical activity and nutrition, allowing you to quickly find programs targeted to your desired policy area, audience and resource availability.
Chronic Disease in the States
Sharon Moffatt, chief of the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials' Health Promotion and Disease Prevention program, will present information on successful state strategies to address chronic disease and what lessons can be learned from other states' challenges at this session of NCSL's Fall Forum Health Policy Preconference.
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