Nearly one in four veterans receiving care from VA has diabetes. When diabetes advocates talk about groups of people at higher risk for the disease, they usually mention certain racial and ethnic groups. They might bring up age or obesity as risk factors. But veterans span all demographics and, as a group, a quarter live with diabetes. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) reports that one in four men and women (24 percent) who served their country have diabetes. That’s much higher than the 9 percent of all Americans who have diabetes. There are a few theories as to why diabetes disproportionately affects veterans. For one, they have a higher rate of overweight and obesity than the general population: More than 70 percent of patients in VA facilities are overweight or have obesity. VA patients also tend to be older, have lower incomes, and have limited access to high-quality, healthy food—social disparities that can lead to greater diabetes risk. And the VA has been examining suspected links between type 2 diabetes and herbicides such as Agent Orange, which was used during warfare by U.S. troops in the Vietnam War, as well as other aspects of war that could increase veterans’ risks for developing diabetes. We also must mention that the VA has one of the most comprehensive programs to deal with diabetes and the prevention of diabetes. As an example, one of the programs they offer is MOVE. About 580,000 veterans have participated in MOVE! through 4.5 million encounters (such as group meetings or one-on-one sessions with health care professionals or peers) in clinical settings in the VHA. They found that between veterans who participated in MOVE! and those who qualified but did not participate, the participants were able to lose an average of 30 pounds more than the control group after one year, and they maintained nearly all that weight loss at the two-year mark. They also saw significant improvements in participants’ A1c’s. Our healthcare system might learn something from the VA and do a better job in controlling diabetes in the general population. ”We Can Make A Difference”  — VA Health Administration;  Diabetes Forecast;  Diabetes Care

— Steve Freed, R.Ph., Publisher, Diabetes Educator