Raise awareness about diabetes

The Allegheny County Health Department (ACHD) has joined with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) and other organizations to emphasize the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of prevention and management of the disease during American Diabetes Month.

Around 11 percent of Allegheny County residents have been diagnosed with diabetes.  Nationally, over 29 million children and adults have diabetes and an additional 86 million are at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Recent estimates project that as many as one in three American adults will have diabetes by 2050, unless measures are taken to reduce risk factors for the disease. 

To focus attention on this major health issue, the local chapter of the American Diabetes Association held its annual EXPO on November 8.  Dr. Karen Hacker, Director of the Allegheny County Health Department and Rich Fitzgerald, Allegheny County Executive, addressed attendees of this free event.  The EXPO, a Live Well Allegheny event, featured free health screenings, cooking demonstrations and a wealth of information, fun and engaging activities for families and children.

“There are a growing number of individuals with diabetes or pre-diabetes in this country. Diabetes and the development of diabetes are major public health issues. But diabetes can be prevented and given the known relationship between diabetes Type 2 and obesity, we know that efforts to prevent obesity and encourage healthy lifestyles can help to decrease the incidence of the disease. For those who have diabetes or are at risk for diabetes, the EXPO is an invaluable way to learn more about lifestyle changes to manage or prevent the disease. Forthcoming Live Well Allegheny events will offer additional opportunities for activities or education that promote healthy living,” said Dr. Hacker.  

Diabetes is a chronic disease which requires regular care.  Lack of management can lead to heart attacks, strokes, amputation, blindness, kidney failure and nerve damage.  But there is good news: diabetes complications can be prevented or delayed by properly managing blood glucose, blood pressure and cholesterol levels.  Eating healthy with an emphasis on vegetables and fruit, being physically active, and quitting smoking also can help lower the risk of diabetes complications.

Live Well Allegheny is a county-wide, coordinated initiative to improve the health of everyone living or working in Allegheny County.  Its website, www.livewellallegheny.com, highlights events, programs, and resources that promote wellness activities throughout the county.  Additionally, the Health Department offers materials to assist people with diabetes in their efforts to manage the disease, which are available to download at www.achd.net/mainstart.html or by calling 412-687-ACHD (2243).