Academy Commends Senators for Introducing Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act

June 7, 2017

CHICAGO – The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics, the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals, commends U.S. Senators Shelley Moore Capito (W.Va.) and Gary Peters (Mich.) for introducing the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act in the U.S. Senate.

The Academy represents more than 100,000 food and nutrition professionals throughout the U.S. and the world.

The Academy believes the Preventing Diabetes in Medicare Act is critical to improve patients' access to nutrition services to prevent diabetes in the senior population.

"Nearly 10 percent of the U.S. population has diabetes," said registered dietitian nutritionist and Academy President Donna Martin. "And unfortunately, there is even more reason to be concerned. In 2012, 86 million Americans age 20 and older had prediabetes, which is a clinical diagnosis indicating extremely high risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. Nearly 30 percent of the Medicare-eligible population already has diabetes, and another 50 percent have prediabetes. A diagnosis of prediabetes should not be hopeless, as there are proven interventions to prevent and delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes," Martin said.

"However, while Medicare covers screening for Type 2 diabetes and covers MNT for individuals with diabetes, it does not cover MNT for individuals with prediabetes," Martin said. "Without this coverage, many of those with prediabetes are unable to afford services to prevent disease progression."

One of the most successful interventions to prevent the onset of diabetes is medical nutrition therapy, or MNT. This important legislation would allow Medicare beneficiaries to receive coverage of medical nutrition therapy for prediabetes, helping millions of Americans receive the services they need and preventing an increase in the number of people with Type 2 diabetes.

"Numerous studies support the effectiveness of MNT for prediabetes, showing recipients losing weight and improving blood glucose levels, often without the use of expensive drug therapy. This effective and comprehensive treatment is an evidence-based service performed by registered dietitian nutritionists for disease prevention and management," Martin said.

The use of individualized MNT as an intervention for prediabetes is strongly supported by research and professional organizations. Studies indicate that people who consult with registered dietitian nutritionists and diabetes educators have improved health outcomes and quality of life.

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All registered dietitians are nutritionists – but not all nutritionists are registered dietitians. The Academy's Board of Directors and Commission on Dietetic Registration have determined that those who hold the credential registered dietitian (RD) may optionally use "registered dietitian nutritionist" (RDN) instead. The two credentials have identical meanings.

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics is the world's largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. The Academy is committed to improving the nation's health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy. Visit the Academy at eatright.org.