Texas football legend Earl Campbell is urging those persons with diabetes and those at risk to educate themselves about this deadly disease capable of destroying bodies piece by piece. He is promoting the Health for Life diabetes initiative, which establishes free diabetes education programs in Austin, Dallas, Houston, San Antonio and East Texas.
"You don’t have to die or suffer and you can control this disease when you know what to do," Mr. Campbell said. "Diabetes has attacked my family. It has taken my mother and my sister. My brother, Willie, is winning his fight with diabetes because he has educated himself about the disease."
Mr. Campbell is encouraging persons with diabetes, especially African Americans who are more likely to develop the disease, to participate in Diabetes Self-Management Education (DSME) classes being offered by various community service and health care organizations. The DSME classes are sponsored by TMF Health Quality Institute under contract with the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services.
The diabetes education project is specifically targeting African American Medicare beneficiaries with diabetes. However, the free classes are available to everyone. African Americans are more likely than non-Hispanic whites to have diabetes. However, 25 percent of African American women over the age of 55 have the disease and 25 percent of all African Americans between the ages of 65 and 74 have diabetes. Furthermore, African Americans are more likely to die from the disease and more than twice as likely to suffer devastating complications, such as kidney disease, blindness and amputations.
Mr. Campbell’s brother, Willie Campbell, had to have his right leg amputated because of diabetes.
"I learned the hard way that you have to pay attention to the disease. You have to be smarter than it is," Willie Campbell said. "I learned to monitor my sugar levels regularly, eat right, exercise and take my pills when I need them. I am now in control of my diabetes."
The DSME classes teach patients about, and assist them with, setting goals for proper nutrition, physical activity, regular check-ups with their physicians, glucose monitoring and consistent medication use. A list of DSME class providers can be found on the TMF website at: www.diabeteshealthforlife.org.
Earl Campbell added, "This is a great cause. I want to get the word out there about these classes. I want parents and grandparents to take these classes to help themselves and then to teach the kids about eating right and exercising. Sometimes kids don’t listen to parents, but they will listen to a ballplayer or some kind of celebrity. I want parents to say ‘Listen to that ballplayer,’ if that helps."
According to the American Diabetes Association, the national cost of diabetes in the U.S. in 2007 exceeded $174 billion. This estimate includes $116 billion in excess medical expenditures attributed to diabetes, as well as $58 billion in reduced national productivity. People with diagnosed diabetes, on average, have medical expenditures that are approximately 2.3 times higher than their expenditures would be in the absence of diabetes. Diabetes affects about 9.8 percent of the Texas population.