November 10, 2004 – Milwaukee, WI – Today Andy Mandell – Mr. Diabetes,® Executive Director of the Defeat Diabetes Foundation, completed mile 6,000 of his Wake Up and Walk® Tour a 10,000+ mile walk of the perimeter of the United States to raise awareness about the disease that nearly took his life.
It’s been a journey of numbers for him – 3 years on the road, 15 states, 50 major rivers crossed, 14 pairs of walking shoes, three tour managers, 30,000 one-on-one contacts and hundreds of media interviews all to create awareness about an insidious epidemic: diabetes. “This marks a special time for me because November is Diabetes Awareness Month. This month, we’re going to help a lot more people learn about a disease that has reached epidemic proportions in the United States” said Mandell. “The key to breaking this disease cycle is awareness, prevention and early detection. That’s what the Wake Up and Walk® Tour is all about and why I’ve been out here walking and talking with the average guy on the street,” added Mr. Diabetes®.
Over 22 million people have the disease, and an additional 2,200 people are being diagnosed daily. Astonishingly, nearly one-half of all diabetics (11 million) don’t know they have this potentially debilitating disease and another 41 million people are “pre-diabetics” who aren’t aware that they are in danger of developing the disease. Even more tragic is 75% of the time, Type 2 Diabetes is PREVENTABLE! The complications from diabetes can be severe. In fact, diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness (12,000-24,000), amputations from non-traumatic causes in the United States (82,000), and can lead to heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s and a host of other equally devastating problems. Diabetes causes 215,000 deaths annually in the United States alone.
Recent reports from the Center for Disease Control indicate that the annual cost of diabetes, continues to climb. Indirect costs included lost workdays, restricted activity days; death and permanent disabilities and in 2002 totaled $39.8 billion. Further, the direct medical costs of diabetes more than doubled from $44 billion in 1997 to $91.8 billion in 2002. The total cost from diabetes rose from $98 billion in 1997 to $132 billion in 2002. The nation spends $13,243 annually on each diabetic patient compared to $2,560 per person for those who do not have diabetes.
“Defeat Diabetes Foundation’s motto, Awareness + Action = Prevention® is a simple one. It’s important to know your risk for getting the disease so start by taking our Free Defeat Diabetes® Screening Test, which measures the currently known risk factors and is available at www.DefeatDiabetes.org. If the test shows you are at risk it’s important to make some lifestyle changes by eating a nutritious diet, being more active and seeing your doctor regularly to properly monitor your condition.
The changes are easier than you think — start by cutting out fast food, products with white flour and add 5 – 9 servings of fresh fruit and vegetables to your diet each day. Pursue a more active lifestyle — Mr. Diabetes® recommends trying the President’s Fitness Active Lifestyle Challenge (www.presidentschallenge.org). “Because of technology we live a more sedentary lifestyle than our ancestors and we need to be more physically active. But exercise has negative connotations for many people. That’s why the President’s Active Lifestyle Challenge is such a great program. First of all it’s FREE!!! There’s a list to choose from of over 100 “sports” activities from archery to yoga and everyday activities, such as walking, house cleaning and gardening, which count towards Active Lifestyle Awards.” he said. Mr. Diabetes® is a recipient of a Gold Active Lifestyle Award which he earned on THE WALK™ and even thirty minutes of physical activity each day makes a difference. “These simple steps can potentially stave off the onset of the disease and will certainly help minimize any of the complications which include: heart attacks, strokes, kidney disease, Alzheimer’s, blindness and the possibility of lower limb amputations” Mandell concluded.
Mr. Diabetes® follows his own advice and walks 12 – 15 miles each day, checks his blood glucose as many as ten times per day, eats a well balanced diet with plenty of fresh fruits and vegetables, and sees a doctor regularly. In spite of that, he still suffers from some complications of the disease including severe neuropathy (loss of feeling in the lower limbs) which requires him to use a walking stick for balance.
Defeat Diabetes Foundation was established in 1990 and is a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization. The mission of Defeat Diabetes Foundation is to inform, educate and alert the general public, diabetics, pre-diabetics and elected officials about the disease, its prevention and the consequences of undiagnosed and/or poorly managed diabetes. The Foundation also provides accurate, up-to-date and practical information on the treatment and self-management of the disease. The Defeat Diabetes Foundation supports public information programs through direct mail, the website, a Schools program, a free monthly E-Lerts™ newsletter and The Mr. Diabetes® Wake Up and Walk® Tour.
The Mr. Diabetes® Wake Up and Walk® Tour will continue through the upper tier states to the east coast of Maine before heading south toward the finish line in Madeira Beach Florida sometime in 2006 or 2007.
For information on diabetes, to take the free screening test or obtain additional information visit: www.DefeatDiabetes.org