Awareness = Prevention?

Every year during November — National Diabetes Month — there are increased efforts by organizations, corporations, and government agencies to promote awareness of diabetes. But while the extra media exposure given to diabetes this month may motivate a spike in publicity efforts by these groups, their awareness campaigns are typically ongoing. These campaigns employ a wide variety of strategies and messages to get the word out about diabetes. Although the goal of each particular publicity effort is not always firmly stated, presumably the main goal of groups engaging in outreach is to prevent diabetes. Are they succeeding?

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Perhaps most prominent among these initiatives is the American Diabetes Association’s Stop Diabetes campaign. The Web site implores visitors to “share” (their stories, by uploading a video), “act” (by officially joining the Stop Diabetes movement), “learn” (about diabetes), and “give” (money, to the American Diabetes Association). There are video testimonials from famous people with both Type 1 (Bret Michaels) and Type 2 diabetes (Billie Jean King), as well as a wide-ranging blog called Diabetes Stops Here.

Another such initiative is Novo Nordisk’s Diabetes Barometer. This site offers introductory videos and Web pages featuring statistics and information on three diabetes-related topics: societal awareness, economic impact, and clinical outcomes. Yet another initiative is the Diabetes Public Health Resource from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This Web site has a diverse mix of offerings including basic information, statistics, audio clips, and news articles on diabetes, with numerous references to the importance of prevention and warnings about the toll diabetes can take. One example is a page called “Diabetes: You Could Be at Risk. Take the Test. Know Your Score,” which asks visitors to answer several simple questions to assess their risk of Type 2 diabetes.

As a person with diabetes, what do you think of these campaigns? Were you aware of them — or campaigns like them — before you were diagnosed with diabetes? Do you think any sort of ad campaign could have affected whether you got (Type 2) diabetes? Are ad campaigns important even if they don’t actually help prevent diabetes? Do you feel a need, or a responsibility, to try to prevent others from getting diabetes? Leave a comment below!

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