Newsroom > DHHS News Release

March 25, 2010

Marla Augustine, Communications & Legislative Services, 402-471-4047,

DHHS Promotes Diabetes Risk Test

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Lincoln – Nebraskans are encouraged to take a Diabetes Risk Test to find out if they are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. The test is available now on the American Diabetes Association website at .

Diabetes is a chronic disease marked by elevated blood sugar levels caused by the body not producing or properly using insulin. Insulin helps glucose (sugar) leave the blood and go into the body's cells to turn into energy. If not treated, the sugar that builds up in your blood can damage your heart, eyes, kidneys and blood vessels.

According to the Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), diabetes affects more than 100,000 children and adults in Nebraska. Many Nebraskans have pre-diabetes, which is when blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not yet high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes.

Nearly one-fourth of those with type 2 diabetes do not know they have it. Oftentimes, diagnosis comes seven to ten years after the onset of the disease. Early diagnosis is critical to successful treatment, delaying or preventing complications such as heart disease, blindness, kidney disease, stroke, amputation and death.

“Taking the Diabetes Risk Test on-line is a quick and simple way to determine if you are at risk for diabetes,” said Dr. Joann Schaefer, Chief Medical Officer and Director of the Division of Public Health. “It’s free, takes less than a minute and could be the ‘wake-up call’ to people unaware that they already have diabetes or pre-diabetes.”

  • Diabetes can cost a person their eyesight, kidneys, feet (through amputation) or even their life. Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in Nebraska in 2006.
  • Lifelong disability, caused by diabetes, can make it hard to hold a job or support a family. The cost of the uninsured is passed on to all others in the community who use the health care system.
  • Factors determining the likelihood of diabetes include gender, age, ethnicity, weight and family members with diabetes.
  • Compared to the white population, Hispanics are 1.6 times, African Americans are 2.5 times, and Native Americans are 3.8 times more likely to die from diabetes.

Diabetes-related spending in Nebraska was approximately $809 million in 2006, compared to $792 in 2002.

According to data collected in 2008 by the Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS), the number of Nebraska residents 18 years of age or older who have been diagnosed with diabetes is estimated at about 103,000, or 7.8% of the state's adult population. By contrast, the number of Nebraska adults with diabetes was estimated at about 60,000 in the year 2000 and about 50,000 in 1990.

People can reduce their risk for diabetes by choosing healthy foods and snacks for the whole family such as fresh fruit and vegetables, lean sources of protein, low or fat-free milk and cheese products, and whole grain breads and cereals.

“The good news is that more people are aware that type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed,” according to Schaefer. “But more people need to understand their risk for diabetes and to take action now to prevent or delay the development of this serious disease.”

For more information, contact Kathy Goddard, Nebraska Department of Health and Human Services, at (402) 471-0194 or email at