My state of Minnesota ranked 3rd in the nation for prevalence of diabetes in 2012, meaning it is one of the states with the lowest percentages of adults who say they’ve been told by their doctor they have the disease.
Even though we rank relatively well, I am not celebrating yet.
The sad truth is even though we in Minnesota are doing better than most of the nation, 7.3 percent of our adult population is living with this chronic disease. Type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90 to 95 percent of all cases of diabetes, is largely preventable, and I won’t feel our job is done until we eradicate type 2 diabetes from our state and from our nation.
Luckily, others share my passion for battling this disease. One such person resides right here in Minnesota. Arlene Becker, who received the 2012 Bruce Zimmerman Diabetes Award at the Many Faces of Community Health Conference, is working hard to fight diabetes locally and nationally.
Becker is a registered and licensed dietitian who is helping those with diabetes and prediabetes, and she is doing laudable work on behalf of the predominantly Latino population she serves at West Side Community Health Services in St. Paul. She recognizes that diabetes is often the result of an unhealthy lifestyle, and health interventions such as helping people lose weight, become more active and make smarter food choices, can save them from heart disease and stroke as well as kidney failure, amputations and blindness.
However, Becker isn’t satisfied to stop at helping those in our state. At the national level, Becker shaped new diabetes prevention policy and programs that will directly impact people with prediabetes, playing a leading role in collaborating with the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center, the Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in Atlanta, the National Diabetes Prevention Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to launch a national diabetes prevention program.
The benefits of these programs will be seen for years to come, and I hope will help turn the tide of the diabetes epidemic in our country. Through our work at America’s Health Rankings, we’re keeping a careful eye on this measure. For a helpful snapshot of the growing burden of diabetes over time, check out this map on our website.
Next month, on Wednesday, Dec. 11, we’ll release the 24th edition of America’s Health Rankings, and I am sure you’re as eager as I am to see where our states rank in diabetes and in the many other measures we track.
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Dr. Tuckson is an active member of the Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences and served as the Chairperson of its Quality Chasm Summit Committee and a member on their Committee on the Consequences of the Uninsured. Currently, he serves as Chair of the Secretary of Health and Human Services’ Advisory Committee on Genetics, Health and Society. Additionally, he recently served as a Commissioner, Certification Commission on Health Information Technology (CCHIT); and is currently a member of the Performance Measurement Workgroup, Ambulatory Care Quality Alliance (AQA); and the Quality Workgroup, American Health Information Community (AHIC).
Dr. Tuckson has also held other federal appointments, including cabinet level advisory committees on health reform, infant mortality, children's health, violence, and radiation testing.