Victoria resident, chairman of national American Diabetes Association talks to U.S. Senate

JR Ortega By JR Ortega

Oct. 12, 2011 at 5:12 a.m.

America's health continues to be abused by diseases such as diabetes, and Victoria resident John Griffin emphasized that fact at a U.S. Senate hearing Wednesday afternoon.

Diabetes staggeringly climbs, and a pessimistic forecast of an expected one-out-of-three adults to have diabetes by 2050 needs to be prevented, said Griffin, the chairman of the board of the national American Diabetes Association.

Griffin, along with four other health advocacy leaders, told the Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions how evidence-based intervention practices could tighten the depleting health care finance gap and help prove why the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act needs to continue to be funded and lauded.

"Diabetes claims more deaths than any other disease. It's a serious matter," Griffin said. "I think the more the public is aware of it, the better off we're going to be."

The act is being perceived as a "slush fund," and talks of the White House cutting its funds linger without concrete evidence on why the act is beneficial, said Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.

"We've got to show movement and momentum and the involvement of the people," Mikulski said to the panel.

Griffin said he thinks he provided powerful, clinical-based intervention practices that show how the act is beneficial.

In 2007, about $218 billion was spent on diabetes, Griffin told the senators.

Already, programs such as the Diabetes Prevention Program, a multi-center clinical research trial funded by the National Institutes of Health's National Institute of Diabetes, has delayed the onset of diabetes in 58 percent of its participants with pre-diabetes simply by increasing exercise and healthy food choices, Griffin said.

Community-based programs through the YMCA have shown how healthier eating and exercise choices work well at preventing diabetes.

If these programs would branch out into all the communities in the nation, then the United States could save up to $190 billion over the next 10 years, Griffin said.

"It works in a myriad of ways, and it needs to be nationwide," he told the senators. "In the face of this tsunami of exploding diabetes, we cannot cut the prevention and public health fund. We cannot afford to not stop diabetes."

Efforts to cut medical costs and save lives is evident in Victoria, he said.

This year, Victoria will be seeing its first Stop Diabetes Day event on Nov. 12, a month set aside to observe diabetes awareness.

Continuing these community-based programs will show the White House why the act and its funding is so valuable not only for the physical health of the nation, but financial health as well, he said.

"Victoria is setting an example," he said. "We know these costs will overwhelm our health care system if we don't act with prevention."



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