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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, Aug. 8, 2001
Contact: HHS Press Office
(202) 690-6343

Remarks by HHS Secretary Tommy G. Thompson at Press Conference
Announcing Results of Diabetes Prevention Program


Thank you, Dr. Spiegel. Dr. Nathan, congratulations on completion of this important study. Dr. Saudek it's a pleasure to see you representing the American Diabetes Association. To all of you here, thank you for inviting me to join you.

In my 14 years as governor of Wisconsin, and now, as Secretary of Health and Human Services, preventive health has always been a priority for me.

If we make some modest adjustments in how much we eat or exercise, we can prevent so much illness and death, and save billions in health care costs.

Today, we have exciting news .exciting proof that when it comes to diabetes, prevention works!

The results of the Diabetes Prevention Program point conclusively to two ways that the at-risk population can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes.

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This is wonderful, important news for the American people. Diabetes wounds and kills, affecting more than 16 million Americans.

It causes blindness. People lose limbs to amputation. We all know how much it contributes to kidney disease and renal failure, but diabetes is also linked to heart attack and strokes.

I am very glad to see members of the Native American community here today. Thank you for your participation in the Diabetes Prevention Program.

Diabetes hits minority groups especially hard. Back in Wisconsin, our highest rate of diabetes is in Menominee County, where the population is 87 percent American Indian.

One out of 10 people in Menominee County has diabetes. As Dr. Spiegel reported, you also see disproportionate rates among Hispanic-Americans and African-Americans.

We tend to associate diabetes with older people, and in fact, type 2 diabetes used to be known as adult-onset diabetes. But now we're seeing children get it, usually overweight kids, some as young as 8 years old. Think what a child who develops diabetes at such a young age will go through in his or her life.

Thanks to this study, we know more about helping that child avoid diabetes. And we can show adults that with exercise and a better diet, they do not have to face this progressive, potentially deadly disease.

It couldn't come at a better time. In the last 10 years, type 2 diabetes has exploded. The population is aging. Our most vulnerable ethnic populations are increasing, too. Americans weigh more than ever before, and too many people live sedentary lives.

Diabetes costs our nation at least $100 billion each and every year. Worse is the human toll, the pain and suffering, the loss of limbs, ruined eyesight, the failing kidneys.

But just think: By losing 10 or 15 pounds, for example, cutting down on fat intake, and by exercising half an hour a day, people at risk of getting diabetes can significantly reduce their odds.

The Diabetes Prevention Program proves that prevention works, and now we must find ways to spread the word. The public needs to know how to take advantage of this great news.

So today I am directing the national diabetes education program to develop a new, public-health campaign.

This joint program of the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention brings together national groups who work to raise the quality of life and standards of care for people with diabetes.

These experienced, skilled people will disseminate the health messages now being developed by researchers with the Diabetes Prevention Program. As the researchers craft prevention-specific materials, we can make sure the message gets into doctors' offices and people's lives.

Finally, I have established an agency-wide task force within HHS to identify steps we can take to put this new knowledge into action. I want those recommendations by the end of the year. The evidence is so clear, and the impact on people's health so important, that we cannot delay.

Thank you, again, to all of you involved in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Congratulations on the good work, and thank you for your willingness to continue taking on this terrible illness.

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Note: All HHS press releases, fact sheets and other press materials are available at www.hhs.gov/news. Last revised: August 8, 2001