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BCBSNC Launches Diabetes Initiative
Written by Staff Reports   
Monday, 18 February 2019 13:03

DURHAM -- Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina (Blue Cross NC) announced plans to dramatically cut the diagnosis rates of Type 2 diabetes in North Carolina with a $5 million investment in the Diabetes Free NC initiative.

Every year an estimated 53,000 people in North Carolina are diagnosed with diabetes, and about 2.6 million adults live with prediabetes. The investment will remove barriers, such as cost and accessibility that have historically prevented many North Carolinians with prediabetes from participating in diabetes prevention programs offered throughout the state. The investment will be a significant step toward creating a healthier, diabetes-free North Carolina.

“Diabetes has a major impact on people’s lives, and this investment gets us beyond the treatment and management of this devastating disease,” said Dr. Patrick Conway, president and CEO of Blue Cross NC. “Diabetes Free NC is about preventing the onset of Type 2 diabetes and curing North Carolinians living with prediabetes by empowering them to lead a healthier and higher quality life.”

The condition of prediabetes arises when a person’s blood glucose level (blood sugar level) is higher than normal but not high enough to lead to a Type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Thirty percent of people living with prediabetes are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within five years if there is no intervention. Individuals with Type 2 diabetes are at an increased risk of stroke, heart disease and other serious health problems that have an estimated annual cost of $10.9 billion in North Carolina.

“We have a window where we can detect people who are at risk of getting diabetes and be able to intervene. A diabetes prevention program does just that,” said Dr. Betsey Tilson, North Carolina state health director and chief medical officer for the Department of Health and Human Services. “We know that through evidence-based diabetes prevention programs we can reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes by 60 percent. With structured lifestyle programs that look at eating, exercise and lifestyle changes, we can dramatically decrease an individual’s risk of progressing to Type 2 diabetes.”

The Diabetes Free NC initiative is a collaboration between North Carolina Division of Public Health and NC State University. The initiative supports Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recognized diabetes prevention programs across the state that provide a comprehensive, evidence-based curriculum promoting the adoption of healthier diets and increased levels of physical activity to prevent the full onset of Type 2 diabetes.

“With Blue Cross and Blue Shield’s generous investment, our programs can now be offered for free to all qualifying adults across the state regardless of their health insurance coverage,” said Dr. Carolyn Dunn, professor and nutrition specialist at NC State University and lead author and principal investigator of Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes, an online diabetes prevention program. “Their support allows us to expand our learning options to include onsite support groups or real-time, online programs. We have a lot of unique formats now to ensure access to programs in urban and rural communities, with flexible times that are convenient for the participants.”

The funding will also allow Diabetes Free NC to connect health care providers, employers and all CDC-recognized organizations that provide evidence-based prevention programs across the state to ensure access, knowledge and cost barriers are eliminated in the effort to reduce diabetes diagnoses in North Carolina. The implementation of a Request for Applications Process will help fund existing programs, allowing them to expand participation at no cost to the participants.

To promote all available Diabetes Free NC CDC-recognized programs and maximize reach across the state, a new website,, will serve as a portal for qualifying adults interested in taking the first step toward their diabetes-free future.



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