National Diabetes Awareness Month Begins

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Today, Nov. 1, 2018, marks the first day of National Diabetes Awareness Month, which is dedicated to raising awareness about diabetes risk factors and encouraging people to make healthy changes and choices. In March 2017, the Hawai‘i Department of Health (DOH) launched the “Prevent Diabetes Hawai‘i” campaign, which encourages residents to take an online Diabetes Risk Test and share the results with their doctor or healthcare provider. Since then, one in ten Hawai‘i residents have gone online to take a Diabetes Risk Test.

The “Prevent Diabetes Hawai‘i” campaign launched last year with a series of television and radio advertisements featuring local comedian Frank De Lima, who has type 2 diabetes himself. The campaign also highlights prediabetes, which means a person’s blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. More than half of adults in Hawai‘i have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, and most are not aware they have it.

“We want people to know that type 2 diabetes can be prevented,” said Health Director Dr. Bruce Anderson. “Two out of every three adults with prediabetes do not know they have the disease, which indicates the need for more screening in Hawai‘i. The online risk test is a tool for people to find out if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes and talk about it with their healthcare providers.”


The campaign evaluation was conducted through a follow-up survey to the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, and data collection occurred from July to December 2017. The sampling showed that more than half of adults (63 percent, or 789,200 people) said that they have seen or heard an ad about preventing diabetes. When asked specifically about the “Prevent Diabetes Hawai‘i” ads, recall totaled 35 percent, or 446,600 adults. Of the 137,600 adults who have taken the online Diabetes Risk Test to-date, 38 percent (52,100 adults) said the test identified them as prediabetic or at-risk for type 2 diabetes.

“We are very encouraged by these campaign results, as early detection and lifestyle change is critical to preventing type 2 diabetes,” said Lola Irvin, administrator of DOH’s Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Division. “Up to 30 percent of adults with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within three to five years, so it is important to take the risk test now. Ask your ‘ohana and friends ‘Did you take the test?’ and you can make a big difference. It’s that easy.”

Unless trends change, 86,000 more people are expected to develop type 2 diabetes by 2023, costing the state $1.73 billion in combined treatment expenditures and lost productivity. People can reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes by eating healthy, increasing their physical activity, achieving a healthy weight, and not smoking. Entering a nearby diabetes prevention program can help with the lifestyle change.


The “Prevent Diabetes Hawai‘i” campaign featured ads on TV, radio, digital news racks, and in shopping malls across the state. The campaign cost just over $400,000 and was funded by a combination of state general funds and cooperative agreements with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). To take the Diabetes Risk Test, learn about local diabetes prevention programs, or to download campaign materials, visit

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