U.S. Report Finds Too Few Clinics Target Diabetes, Obesity

THURSDAY, June 24 (HealthDay News) -- Too few local health clinics in the United States offer diabetes screening or obesity prevention programs, according to a nationwide study from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The clinics, which tend to serve poor clients, need to be "armed and equipped" to respond to the increasing threat of obesity and diabetes in the nation, study co-author Ann Albright said in a Center for the Advancement of Health news release.

She and her colleagues analyzed data from a 2005 survey of 2,300 health clinics and found that about 56% of them offered obesity prevention programs, 51% offered diabetes screening, and only one third offered both.

The findings were of particular concern since the percentage of obese American adults has doubled from 1980 to 2004, and the percentage of Americans diagnosed with diabetes may have doubled as well, according to researchers. People with diabetes and lower incomes run a higher risk of dying of the disease, research has shown.

Albright directs the Division of Diabetes Translation, which translates diabetes research into daily practice, at the CDC's National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion.

One expert questioned the value of obesity and diabetes screening programs alone. Such programs "are not a big part of the solution. After all, they are designed to find the trouble, not necessarily fix it," Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said in the news release.

"We should define what contributions health departments can, and should, be making to global efforts at obesity and diabetes prevention and control, and then distribute resources to make sure they can all make these contributions. Otherwise, some will be doing far less than is needed, and some will be doing more than what is truly useful," Katz said.

The CDC findings appear online and in the August print issue of the American Journal of Public Health.

-- Robert Preidt

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SOURCE: Center for the Advancement of Health, June 22, 2010, news release.