Community Preventative Services Task Force focusing on diabetes prevention

The Community Preventive Services Task Force announced that it recommends interventions engaging community health workers (CHWs) for diabetes prevention. The finding is based on sufficient evidence of effectiveness in improving glycemic control and weight-related outcomes among people at increased risk for type 2 diabetes.

Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the United States in 2014. Almost 29 million Americans have diabetes, including more than 7 million who are undiagnosed. Of the one-third of US adults who have prediabetes, 90% are unaware they have it. Structural lifestyle change programs can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes among the prediabetes population. Evidence from the review shows that programs using CHWs to target populations at increased risk of type 2 diabetes were effective. Such programs were able to improve health outcomes, including blood sugar control (HbA1C, fasting blood glucose) and weight reduction.  They were also able to reduce rates of new-onset diabetes. The implementation of CHWs could significantly decrease healthcare spending on people with diagnosed diabetes, which composes more than 20% of total health care spending.

Community health workers are public health professionals who act as a connection between underserved communities and health care systems. They deliver program content through individual and group sessions, provide education about diabetes prevention, informal counseling, and provide support for community members. Based on a systematic review of 22 studies, engaging CHWs was shown to improve glycemic control, including Hemoglobin A1c and fasting blood glucose levels, as well as weight-related outcomes. Some studies included in the review also showed reduced rates of progression to type 2 diabetes with CHW engagement.

The Community Preventive Services Task Force is an independent, nonfederal, uncompensated panel of public health and prevention experts. The Task Force works to improve the health of all Americans by providing evidence-based recommendations about community preventive programs, services, and policies to improve health. Its members represent a broad range of research, practice, and policy expertise in community prevention services, public health, health promotion, and disease prevention.

For more information, visit The Guide to Community Preventive Services (The Community Guide), which provides a collection of all the evidence-based findings and recommendations of the Community Preventive Services Task Force.

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