Fighting Diabetes in the Workplace

The California state government and the Federal government have teamed up to increase awareness of diabetes in the workplace. The Diabetes Prevention and Control Program in the California Department of Health Services and the National Diabetes Education Program (NDEP) are working together to encourage businesses to take a part in employee health as a means to maintaining productive workers and a healthy bottom line.

The NDEP is a joint initiative of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Institutes of Health.

Diabetes is common, serious and costly, and is considered a national epidemic. The good news is that type 2 diabetes, the most common form, is largely preventable. Furthermore, people with diagnosed diabetes can avoid or delay serious complications by controlling their diabetes.

California is planning a Workplace Wellness Event to showcase free tools and simple ideas for employers to use to promote a healthy workforce. "Diabetes and related chronic diseases, such as high blood pressure and high cholesterol, can impact many aspects of a business from employee morale and productivity to rising health care costs," says Jane Kelly, M.D. and executive director of the NDEP. Participants at the event will be introduced to www.diabetesatwork.org, a free, online tool that helps companies assess, plan and implement diabetes education programs. Designed for managers, occupational health providers, benefit and human resource managers, the Web site provides more than 30 simple lesson plans and fact sheets that can be used to inform employees about how to prevent or manage their diabetes while at work, and how to reduce their risk for further complications. Spanish language materials are being added to the Web site. All materials can be downloaded, e-mailed and incorporated into electronic presentations.

More than 18.2 million people in the United States have diabetes. In California alone, over 2 million people have diabetes and many more are at high risk for developing diabetes.

"It will take the combined efforts of businesses, schools, families, and communities to fight this growing epidemic," says Mark Shannon, interim chief for the California Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. "The Workplace Wellness Event offers some simple solutions to approach a huge and growing problem. By working together we can take a step by step approach to improving health."

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