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You can help shape a plan to fight diabetes, but hurry

If you are diabetic or have been told you are at risk of diabetes, there are some folks who would like to hear from you.

The Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program and 12 health organizations throughout the state want to know what they can do to help you be healthier.

Do they need to come up with better ways to educate you about a disease that shows no signs of fading away in Kentucky? Did you have a particular doctor who seemed to connect with you better in the treatment of the disease?

"We know a lot of things that help" diabetics, said Theresa Renn, coordinator of the Kentucky Diabetes Prevention and Control Program. Renn cited good, consistent health care; education; and examinations and tests that monitor diabetes.

But none of that will work successfully unless the patient is vested in the process, she said. Some of the responsibility falls on diabetics who continue to make the wrong choices in their diets and their sedentary lifestyles.

That's why Renn wants to hear from you.

The diabetes prevention and control program and its partners want you fill out an anonymous online survey indicating what works best for you and what you think would work in your community or neighborhood.

The information will be used to help formulate the Kentucky Diabetes State Plan, which will help build a united front to decrease the number of cases of diabetes.

Diabetes is a disease that doesn't allow the body to make or properly use insulin, which helps the body metabolize glucose, or sugar. There are two types of diabetes.

With Type 1, previously called juvenile-onset diabetes, an external source of insulin is needed because the body can't make its own.

With Type 2, the body can't use the insulin it makes. It was previously called adult-onset diabetes.

According to state figures, 445,200 Kentucky adults have diabetes, and 611,000 Kentuckians ages 40 to 74 have pre-diabetes and are at high risk for developing the disease.

Among the latter age group, Type 2 diabetes accounts for 90 percent to 95 percent of diabetes cases nationwide. Type 2 is linked to obesity and physical inactivity.

The complications of diabetes include amputations, blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and stroke.

That's why a state plan is so needed.

If everyone — individuals, health care professionals, schools, and government and social agencies — were to work together, the fight could be easier, Renn said.

"We're hoping this plan will help us come together and provide a road map for efforts in the next several years," she said. "There are really a lot of people doing a lot of really good things. But it is hard to get our arms around it. The plan means being able to know everything that everyone else is doing and knowing what we thing is so important."

The survey, which can be found at Surveymonkey.com/s/Kentucky_Diabetes_Consumer_Survey_2010, is intended to ensure that what the patients want and need will be met, Renn said.

A similar survey, for health care providers, also is being conducted.

About 500 people had responded to the consumer survey by Monday, but they want and need many more, Renn said. Here's the catch. You have only until Thursday to complete it.

No one knows what the state plan might entail, but you can have a say or a role in conquering diabetes in our state.

"It is easy to write a plan on a piece of paper," Renn said, "and much more difficult to make that a living, breathing document."

People from throughout the state and in various disciplines will be invited to Frankfort in September to draft the plan. By the first of the year, another meeting will be held to tweak and finalize the plan.

Next spring, the plan will be unveiled. Then the real work will begin.

That's when the call to change our eating habits and activity levels, and get those around us to do the same, will get a lot louder.

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