Articles, Blog

The Importance of Health Equity in Preventive Services to the NIDDK

September 12, 2019

(Music) Well, at NIDDK, many of the
diseases in our research mission exhibit dramatic
health disparities. These include obesity,
type 2 diabetes, which place individuals at high risk of
many other conditions and complications, like kidney
disease, while increasing risk for premature death and
lower quality of life. About a third of
U.S. adults have obesity, and rates are significantly
higher among Hispanics, African Americans, Native
Americans, Pacific Islanders, and many minority groups. About 12% of
U.S. adults, or 30 million people,
have diabetes. Ninety to 95% of these are
caused by cases of type 2 diabetes, which, again,
disproportionately affects certain racial, ethnic, and
socially disadvantaged groups. Now, another 84
million U.S. adults, or about one in three adults,
has prediabetes. These disparities clearly
point to a need to achieve health equity in
preventive services. At NIDDK, we address health
equity in preventive services by funding research. In our studies, we strive hard
to get broad representation of diverse populations, so
we’re more confident that the research-finding and
recommendations will hold true for populations that
are most affected. For example, the NIDDK-led
Diabetes Prevention Program, or DPP, recruited heavily among
African Americans, Hispanics, American Indians, and Asian
communities, and showed that structured lifestyle changes
designed to promote modest weight loss can delay and
potentially prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in
those at high risk and people from
those backgrounds. NIDDK-supported translational
research led to an adaptation of those interventions that formed
the basis of the congressionally established National Diabetes
Prevention Program, which is being disseminated
nationwide by the CDC and CMS. Achieving health equity in
preventive services would improve the overall health of
socioeconomically disadvantaged communities where
rates of obesity and diabetes are highest. Health equity approaches
could transform access to evidence-based services,
affordable diabetes screening, and feasible treatment options
that align with people’s culture and values. This requires strong
collaboration with communities, health care systems,
and researchers. Now, from a research
perspective, it’s imperative that we develop and test
new approaches to prevention, especially interventions that
could be used in under-resourced communities, including the
innovative use of technologies. I believe achieving equity in
preventive services will reduce disparities in diabetes
and obesity and help prevent their complications. Therefore, improving uptake
of evidence-based services in diverse settings will improve
many health outcomes so people have a better opportunity to
live longer and healthier lives regardless of income,
where they live, or racial and ethnic background. These outcomes are important for
our nation and motivate the work that we do in NIDDK. (Music)

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