An estimated 30.3 million people — more than nine percent of the U.S. population — suffer from diabetes and are at risk for a host of life-threatening ailments the disease can trigger. The trend is all the more alarming when considered alongside another shocking statistic: 90 percent of those with prediabetes are unaware they have the condition.
Yet today, more than one in three U.S. adults is living with prediabetes, an increasingly common, serious condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, putting individuals at grave risk of developing Type 2 diabetes and other health problems including heart disease and stroke.
In North Carolina, 53,000 residents are diagnosed with diabetes each year – while an additional 2.6 million are living with prediabetes, contributing $10.9 billion to health expenditures annually. While not everyone diagnosed with prediabetes will develop diabetes, they are at a greater risk.
With a focus on early intervention, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (BCBSNC) has invested in Diabetes Free NC, a collaboration between the North Carolina Division of Public Health and North Carolina State University. The initiative is using comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum aimed at dramatically cutting the rate of Type 2 diabetes diagnoses within the state.
Managing a chronic condition like diabetes can be costly and time consuming for patients and their families. One of every four healthcare dollars is spent treating the disease, the majority of that for hospitalization and medications. In fact, medical expenses for diabetics are more than twice as high as they are for those without the condition.
Employing proven diabetes prevention programs across the state, Diabetes Free NC is connecting healthcare specialists, employers and other organizations to empower those with prediabetes to take charge of their health and well-being and prevent the full on-set of Type 2 diabetes.
Qualifying adults across North Carolina, regardless of their health insurance status, are able to participate in the free programs and courses that promote healthier diets and increased physical activity. Research shows simple lifestyle changes such as losing five to seven percent body weight and adding 30 minutes of physical activity five days a week can reduce the risk for developing Type 2 diabetes by nearly 60 percent. To ensure residents in both urban and rural communities have access to these programs, Diabetes Free NC also offers the preventative measures in a variety of formats and times allowing participants to conveniently access the information and tools they need to remain diabetes free.