- Associated Press - Thursday, December 14, 2017

BALTIMORE (AP) - The American Medical Association is partnering up with MedChi, the Maryland State Medical Society, as part of a multi-state effort to reduce Type 2 diabetes.

The association has started to work on preventing new cases of Type 2 diabetes in California, Michigan and South Carolina and will now be paired with Maryland as well eight additional medical societies - in Maine, Mississippi, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania and Rhode Island - to develop models to prevent the disease, according to a recent statement.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention data from 2014, nearly 30 million Americans had diabetes.

In Maryland last year, 12.6 percent of adults - or about 623,000 - had diabetes, according to the American Diabetes Association. Additionally, 1,634,000 people in Maryland in 2012 - 36.9 percent of the adult population - had pre-diabetes, a condition with higher blood glucose levels than normal but not yet high enough to diagnose as diabetes, according to diabetes association.

According to the American Diabetes Association, when a person has Type 1 diabetes, the body doesn’t produce insulin. Only 5 percent of people with diabetes have this form and it is typically is diagnosed in young children.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form and does not properly use the insulin that the body produces, otherwise known as insulin resistance. It is often associated with inactivity, poor diet and obesity.

“With 90 percent of the people living with pre-diabetes in this country unaware they have the condition and at high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes, we are excited to now be working with eight new states to help reach thousands more patients with pre-diabetes,” AMA President Dr. David O. Barbe said in a release.

With this initiative, the association will use the state medical societies involved to encourage more physicians throughout the country to screen at-risk patients for pre-diabetes and to refer them to National Diabetes Prevention Programs.

These programs, according to the CDC, can be online or in-person and are developed specifically to prevent Type 2 diabetes in those who have pre-diabetes or are at risk for Type 2 diabetes, but not for those who already have it.

Throughout the program, trained coaches help participants change certain aspects of their lifestyle - such as eating healthier, exercising more and reducing stress - to help reduce the risk of diabetes. The group also offers a lot of support for members to share their struggles.

These programs have been shown to cut the risk in half for patients to develop Type 2 diabetes, according to Prevent Diabetes STAT, a collaboration between the AMA and CDC, which have teamed up for the effort.

Currently, the AMA is working with more than 45 health systems across the nation to further develop diabetes prevention strategies.

“With Maryland, we’re just beginning this partnership,” Kelly Jakubek, public information officer at the AMA told the University of Maryland’s Capital News Service.

Gene Ransom, CEO of MedChi, said that “it just makes sense” to join the initiative and that it came around at the perfect time.

“(Diabetes) is a big deal in the state because it’s identified on the Maryland Medicare waiver as something we want to prevent… also it’s just the right thing to do.

“If diabetes is treated and caught ahead of time it can save the patient a lot of stress, but also taxpayers a lot of money,” Ransom added.

MedChi has developed initiatives on diabetes before joining with AMA. Ransom explained that the society is one of the founding partners of Sugar Free Kids, a statewide coalition aimed to reverse the trend of childhood obesity by educating Marylanders about the epidemic.

Additionally, the group released a study last year that showed the cost of diabetic care in the Maryland Medicaid budget. Medicaid spending per enrollee with diabetes totaled to $24,387, which is more than double the number of spending per enrollee without diabetes at $10,880.

MedChi is proud to partner with the AMA on this important public health issue,” Ransom said.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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