Santa Clara County diabetes campaign brings awareness, resources to disease

Santa Clara County has launched a diabetes awareness campaign on the disease that has grown at an "alarming rate" among residents, officials said.

The "Together We Can Prevent Diabetes" campaign aims to prevent type 2 diabetes, a chronic condition that can be difficult for people and their families, county public health department spokeswoman Allison Thrash said.

The campaign also aims to provide people with direction if they are at risk or have diabetes, she said.

Data from a county 2013-2014 survey shows that about 8 percent, or 112,000, of people in the county have been diagnosed with either type 1 or 2 diabetes and about 10 percent of adults reported they had pre-diabetes.

The disease is a very expensive problem that can cost $243 billion a year nationwide, according to a 2014 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The condition is "one of the things contributing to drastically increasing health care costs" and can lead to serious complications if it is poorly managed, Thrash said.

The CDC report also shows that nine out of 10 people do not know they have pre-diabetes and one in three people will have diabetes in their lifetimes.

The message will be spread through "eye-catching" advertisements on dozens of Santa Clara Valley Transportation Authority buses and bus shelters, Thrash said.

The eye-catching image that reads, "It's in our hands" will be seen in English, Spanish or Vietnamese, she said.

The campaign will also feature a billboard at the interchange between Interstate highways 280 and 680.

The effort also focuses on preventing diabetes by making behavioral changes such as increasing physical activity and making healthier food choices.

"We can reverse the growth of type 2 diabetes with our comprehensive efforts to prevent cases from ever getting beyond the pre-diabetes stage," Supervisor Dave Cortese said in a statement.

"While individual behavior change is necessary to prevent diabetes, this positive, community-wide campaign also calls for residents and organizations in Santa Clara County to come together to support one another and work collectively to address this health crisis," Supervisor Ken Yeager said in a statement.

The county is also working on an evidence-based program for people with a high risk for diabetes, Thrash said.

There will also be free screening events at the "Day on the Bay" multicultural festival in San Jose on Oct. 10 and the Open Air Health Fair Oct. 10 and 11 at the San Jose Flea Market.

People can learn about community resources available to manage diabetes and find out if they are at risk through an online test.

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