Diabetes is the fifth leading cause of death in the U.S. and is the fastest growing disease in the country.
In the African American community, the statistics are especially dire.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 3.7 million black Americans are affected by diabetes. Nearly 40 percent of black children have contributing factors to diabetes, including being overweight or obese, and black Americans are more likely to suffer from diabetes-related complications, including kidney disease .
Victoza, an injectable diabetes treatment, has been found to help patients reduce and maintain blood sugar at a medically ideal level, while gastric bypass surgery has had great effect in lowering Type 2 diabetes.
But many doctors said that good nutrition and exercise are important for prevention and some doctors say good old-fashioned dietary changes and exercise can’t be beat for achieving weight loss and keeping diabetes at bay.
Dr. John O. Agwunobi, senior vice president and president of health and wellness for Walmart US, oversees the company’s health and wellness business unit, including pharmacies, OTC and vision centers.
He has helped the retailing giant craft a plan with, a health insurance firm, to offer a line of foods and provide cost savings to consumers as an incentive to eat healthier and meet their wellness goals.
Walmart recently launched an effort to save diabetes patients in the U.S. up to $60 million annually with an exclusive line of diabetes products, including blood glucose meters and test strips.
HumanaVitality members who shop at Walmart became eligible for 5 percent savings on products that qualify under Walmart's Great For You icon, including fresh fruit, vegetables and low-fat dairy items. The program rewards members for making healthy choices and achieving wellness goals.
"Price is an important factor in incentivizing wellness in America. By offering affordable, healthier foods, we will help make our customers healthier and reduce costs to our healthcare system as a whole. This represents preventative care in its purest form," Agwunobi told Chain Drug Review, a drug store industry publication.
“We want to be our customers' wellness destination — the retailer that provides them with affordable ways to fight for their health."
The American Diabetes Association recommends that people who take insulin to treat their diabetes test their blood glucose levels a minimum of three times per day to appropriately manage the disease. Many people on oral medications also can also test their blood glucose. This can result in high out-of-pocket costs.
The association also encourages Americans to schedule regular checkups with their doctors and dentists to make sure they are staying on top of the disease.