November is National Diabetes Month, and all kinds of events are planned on the local and national levels to bring attention to the burgeoning epidemic. Hospitals and health systems are working with their communities to sponsor screenings, informational sessions, fund-raising walks and healthy-living demonstrations.

Of course, programs aimed at managing and preventing diabetes are year-round activities for hospitals and health systems. They invest in wellness and prevention services for those with chronic diseases, like diabetes, because keeping people healthy and at home is better for patients and communities – and better for controlling health care costs.

Consider that diabetes affects nearly 30 million children and adults in the U.S. today, according to the American Diabetes Association. Another 86 million people have prediabetes and are at risk for developing the disease. Health complications associated with diabetes include heart disease and vision loss. The average medical expenditures for people with diabetes are about $13,700 a year – with $7,900 relating to diabetes alone.

With all the health complications involved with diabetes – not to mention the health care costs for people living with the disease – November is a sobering reminder of the value of diabetes awareness.

Recent estimates project that as many as 1 in 3 American adults will have diabetes by 2050 unless preventative measures are taken. Everyone is at risk. But the good news is that just about everyone also has the ability to avoid diabetes.

Eating a balanced diet with limited carbohydrates, maintaining a normal weight, and daily exercise for the vast majority will prevent it. Hospitals and health systems want the people they serve to know that a little bit of change can go a long way – and that this is the month to start.

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