Groups urge Senate to continue investment in type 2 diabetes prevention

The American Diabetes Association is calling on the federal government to continue its investment in disease education efforts aimed at prevention, as this may play an important role in stopping the type 2 diabetes epidemic from continuing to spiral out of control.

The group teamed up with the American Cancer Society and the American Heart Association and will testify before the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions to discuss ways the healthcare system can be shaped to put a greater emphasis on prevention and wellness.

Officials said that spending more on prevention now could help reduce direct treatment expenses down the road. Type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases are among the most costly conditions to care for. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that about 75 percent of the nation's healthcare spending goes to treating these preventable conditions.

Beyond the financial benefits of investing in prevention, there is the human impact. The group said millions of lives could be saved or improved by educating people on living healthier lifestyles.

"Despite scary statistics, we know that through proven interventions aimed at diabetes prevention, like the National Diabetes Prevention Program, which prevents or delays over half of new cases of diabetes, we can stop the diabetes epidemic from spreading across the country," said John Griffin, chair of the American Diabetes Association.

He added that 79 million U.S. residents have prediabetes. Helping these individuals prevent their condition from progressing to full-blown type 2 diabetes could avert a major public health crisis, but it is not likely to happen if educational programs are eliminated.

The groups said the Senate committee has previously shown a strong commitment to investing in chronic disease prevention programs. However, that commitment is being tested by the current political climate.