The fight against diabetes is on. The New York State Health Foundation (NYSHealth) is allocating $1.6 million in grants to local health care organizations to fund programs treating people with diabetes. Theyre targeting the disease because its one of the leading killers of New Yorkers and continues to have greater prevalence among minorities. There is a reason the U.S. surgeon general called diabetes a disease of nationwide epidemic proportions, said James Knickman, president and CEO of NYSHealth. As obesity, especially among our children, continues to rise, chronic illnesses like diabetes are becoming the No. 1 threat to our health, he continued. By providing better health care to people with diabetes, NYSHealth hopes fewer people will have to seek care or be hospitalized for diabetes-related medical problems. That in turn would lower the cost of health care in the state, according to the foundation. Most of these organizations are tackling a challenge about how to deliver health care better or prevent illness better that can have a long-term impact on the high costs of health care in New York State, Knickman said. Locally, more than $104,000 will be given to Brooklyn Alliance, Inc., for its Brooklyn HealthWorks program, which offers health insurance to employees of small businesses. Approximately $500,000 will be provided to Working Today, Inc., for its Independent Workers Employment Benefits System, which provides health insurance to people without permanent employers. Freelancers, contractors and temporary workers in media and technology industries have used the system. The city Health Department has acknowledged that diabetes is prevalent in New York City, especially among the poor. Diabetes is hitting the city hard, Health Commissioner Dr. Thomas Frieden has said. Tragically, it is hurting our low-income communities much more than others. With good management, we can prevent devastating complications of diabetes, such as heart disease, blindness, leg amputations and kidney failure. Each year, approximately 20,000 New Yorkers are hospitalized due to diabetes, and 4,700 people living with the disease die, according to Health Department records. The city Department of Education (DOE) took notice and created an Office of Fitness and Health Education to encourage kids to eat healthy and exercise, thereby combating national obesity and diabetes epidemics. According to Health Department data, just 53 percent of the citys elementary school students maintain a healthy weight. More than 20 percent are obese, and as a result, have a greater chance of becoming diabetic. The DOE hopes to prevent children from developing diabetes by giving them the tools necessary to lead healthy lifestyles. The department is expanding its C.H.A.M.P.S. program, which brings sports like basketball, tennis, baseball, and track and field to middle school students. Schools will issue Fitnessgram reports to monitor students progress and offer parents details about their childs health and how it can be improved.
©2008 Community News Group
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