Controlling Diabetes

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Tim Vaske, head of the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease for the Arizona Department of Health Services, talks about the incidence and impact of diabetes in Arizona and programs that help control the disease.

Ted Simons: An estimated one out of nine Arizonans has diabetes, with rates even higher in the Asian, Hispanic, African-American, and Native-American populations. But there are programs set up to help fight the disease. Here to talk about the impact of diabetes on Arizona is Tim Vaske, he's head of the Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease for the Arizona Department of Health Services. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Tim Vaske: Thanks for having me.

Ted Simons: How much does diabetes cost Arizona?

Tim Vaske: It's an alarming rate. The cost of diabetes, we're talking about $2.4 billion a year in Arizona for the cost of treating diabetes. And that's just the direct cost. When you take into indirect costs, it's much higher.

Ted Simons: The incidents have more than doubled since 1990? What's going on here?

Tim Vaske: Yes, it's more than doubled. Right now about 8.6% of adults in Arizona have diabetes or been told they have diabetes, and one of the things we know is that there's probably about 3% of Arizona adults who have diabetes and aren't even aware of it. I think lots of it has to do with just our lifestyles have changed. We've become much more sedentary in our lifestyles, we're not as physically active, we're not eating as healthy so it's starting to catch up with us now.

Ted Simons: There's some line of reasoning that there might be something in the food we eat, whether it's processed, packaged, something that didn't exist in previous -- there's a line of reasoning that says if it's not the food your great grandmother ate, it's not really food. Do you see something out there not so much how much we eat, but in what we eat?

Tim Vaske: I think what we eat plays as major role. We're eating a lot more refined sugars and we're eating out a lot more, more Arizonans, more adults, more Americans actually would rather stop and pick up something on their way home from work rather than make the meal themselves. Or else if they do stop they'll pick up the packaged meal which is going to be high in sugar and fats.

Ted Simons: Let's talk about early detection. Are there state programs to help folks with this? That's a major factor as well, is it not?.

Tim Vaske: Yes, there are state programs. One thing that you always want to consider is having a strong relationship with your primary care provider, so when you go in for your annual physical make sure have you your blood glucose tested. Make sure have you a strong relationship with your primary care provider, and talk to them about your lifestyle habits and ask them or have them kind of probe you.

Ted Simons: Yeah, I guess. Is that the state program? Is that basically what it is, get to know your doctor?

Tim Vaske: It really is, or there are programs for diabetes health management. It's more for those who actually have diabetes. So diabetes health management training essentially what it is, it's an evidence-based program for those who have diabetes to better manage their conditions, so to better manage their physical activity, nutrition, their risk factors, medication adherence. One of the things we're finding is those with strong medication or strong management of their condition, the quality of their life will go up as well as they'll have reduced hearing costs associated with their chronic condition.

Ted Simons: What about prevention?

Tim Vaske: Being physically active, it's not smoking, it's having a nutritious diet. For many Arizonans, for many adults, about 25% of Arizonans are pre-diabetic, so they're at high risk of developing diabetes. Some of the things they dork to prevent it is maybe go for a walk, losing five pounds can drastically reduce your chances of developing diabetes if you are overweight or pre-diabetic.

Ted Simons: Interesting. As far as free education and these programs and things like that, what's out there, and are folks taking advantage of this stuff or do they even know it exists?

Tim Vaske: Unfortunately a lot of folks aren't taking advantage of it. There are programs from the American Diabetes Association, there's programs with the YMCA on diabetes prevention, especially for those who have been told they are pre-diabetic. Many Arizonans do not take advantage of it, and part of it is if you think about it, this is really lifetime of change. So it takes a lifetime for many to develop their diabetes, and it's a lifetime of behavior. So you can't expect people to change overnight without behavior modification.

Ted Simons: We talked about programs, everything from getting to know your doctor better to other aspects. What can the state do better to get information about diabetes out there? You mentioned there's a lot of folks walking around don't even realize they have it.

Tim Vaske: We're working closely with our community partners, with community health centers, with our county partners. State health offices, our county health officers, trying to push the information out in regards to diabetes awareness. We're pairing very closely with the American Diabetes Association, as this is American diabetes month, so we're trying to get that message out there. But unfortunately there just aren't the resources in the state of Arizona to address this.

Ted Simons: And really, again, I would say the number one thing is get to know your doctor and get that test. But obesity has to be the prime factor here. It just seems like that's always involved, not always, mostly involved in cases of diabetes. Correct?

Tim Vaske: Yes, obesity is the driving factor for diabetes right now. When you have so many Arizonans who have high diabetes, or high body mass index, over 30, so they're overweight, obese, you're going to find increased incidents of diabetes. Especially amongst various different populations, among the Hispanic, African-American, Native-American population, we're finding higher rates of obesity, drastically higher rates of diabetes as well.

Ted Simons: All right. Thanks for joining us. We appreciate it.

Tim Vaske: Thanks for having me.

Tim Vaske:Bureau of Tobacco and Chronic Disease, Arizona Department of Health Services;

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