Diabetes is one of the country’s most serious public health crises, and it will likely remain so for some time. According to the American Diabetes Association, 25.8 million Americans now have the disease, with another 79 million at risk, and most of those with the disease have Type 2 diabetes — the kind that results from lifestyle choices.
But half of “public health” is “public,” and recent efforts by retailers and suppliers have sought to combat the disease at the community level.
Last month, Danish drug maker Novo Nordisk announced it would donate $100,000 to organizations in Milwaukee and Madison, Wis., to local programs that educate people with Type 2 diabetes. The effort is part of the company’s Novo Nordisk Community Care program, which donated $415,000 last year to more than 20 programs in Atlanta, Minneapolis, Boston and Philadelphia, saying the programs were chosen for their unique, education-focused content and resources for patients, which include interactive workshops and material for underserved and minority populations. “More than 432,000 Wisconsin residents were faced with diabetes in 2010,” Novo Nordisk executive director of communications Lori Moore said. “As an industry leader, Novo Nordisk is committed to reversing the trend of the diabetes crisis. We recognize that community-based organizations play a critical role in providing diabetes education and care that can help defeat this disease.”
And in August, the University of Chicago Medicine and Walgreens announced “Food Rx,” a program aimed at promoting healthy eating that was created by people with diabetes and also seeks to address limited access and affordability of healthy food. The program is part of the university’s Improving Diabetes Care and Outcomes on the South Side of Chicago and allows diabetes patients who visit any of the program’s six clinics to receive a checklist of their doctors’ food recommendations and coupons for $5 off $20 of healthy food purchased at participating Walgreens stores, as well as $3 vouchers for a farmers market that takes place every week in the city’s Woodlawn neighborhood.
Also in August, Sam’s Club announced it would offer more than $150 worth of diabetes screenings for free, including glucose tests, A1C tests and vision tests, while also offering diabetes lifestyle management and prevention tips in issues of the Healthy Living Made Simple magazine that it distributes to members.