Key Senate committee agrees to fund type 2 diabetes prevention program

Educational programs that teach people at risk for type 2 diabetes how to manage their condition have been proven to be effective methods for reducing individuals' risk of complications and improving treatment outcomes.

In order to make these types of services available to a greater number of people, the Senate Appropriations Committee recently allocated $10 million for the National Diabetes Prevention Program for its fiscal year 2012 budget.

The program seeks to help millions of people reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes through simple and relatively minor lifestyle changes. It has been shown that losing around 5 percent of body fat and exercising at a moderate pace for 30 minutes per day reduces an individual's risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

This is significant, since there are currently 79 million people in the U.S. who have prediabetes, a condition marked by insulin resistance, which often develops into full-blown diabetes. Programs that help these individuals improve their health and avoid the metabolic condition could save the U.S. healthcare system save millions of dollars per year.

In times of economic downturn, prevention programs are generally the first to get cut. For this reason, the American Diabetes Association applauded the efforts of the Appropriations Committee to preserve funding for the initiative, which they called critical to the health of millions of Americans.

"The National Diabetes Prevention Program plays a vital role in the fight to Stop Diabetes and this funding is a critically important step in the nationwide expansion of the program that will protect the health of our nation," said John Griffin, chair of the board of the association.

Prediabetes and related condition cost the nation's healthcare system upwards of $218 billion per year. By comparison, the investment of $10 million in the prevention program is small. If the initiative pays off with improved health for those at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the savings could be significant.