Sam Kitching: I certainly don't want diabetes. That's one of the greatest fears -- it caused my mother to lose her eyesight prematurely, sores would not heal, the medication was terribly expensive and awfully inconvenient.
Carmencita Domingo: My biggest fear is not to get what my aunts and aunties had, both on my father and my mother's side and that is diabetes.
Frenchy Risco: Without question, diabetes is a silent killer. It is devastating in the Afro-American community and most people of color. Absolutely devastating.
Announcer: These people are talking about diabetes, a serious disease affecting over 18 million people in the United States.
Dr. James Gavin: The groups that are at risk for diabetes and therefore who are the targets for this program include African-Americans, Native Americans, Asian and Pacific Islanders, groups like Latinos and older citizens -- people over the age of 60.
Announcer: Millions of people are at risk for diabetes. Although there is no cure for Type II diabetes, those at risk can take steps to prevent the disease.
Dr. James Gavin: Once a person is diagnosed with Type II diabetes, there is no known cure. There are very effective treatments and we've done very well in treating and controlling this disease, but the complications are serious, they are devastating, they are expensive and that's why it is so important that we prevent this disease in the first place.
Announcer: Risk factors for Type II diabetes include being over 45 years of age, being overweight, having high blood pressure or abnormal cholesterol, having a family history of the disease. Recent research has shown that you can sharply lower your chance of getting Type II diabetes. According to a new campaign for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services called Small Steps, Big Rewards, taking small steps can help.
Dr. James Gavin: We now have the evidence from important clinical trials, major studies, to show that even if you are overweight, at very high risk and the age 45 and over age group, you can, by taking small steps -- physical activity, changing your eating patterns and your eating behavior, you can actually prevent the development of Type II diabetes.
Announcer: Sam Kitching is taking that advice. Not only has he started exercising -- bike riding with his wife and working out at the local gym to lose weight -- but he has also changed his diet.
Sam Kitching: We're not eating some of the things that we actually grew up eating and had to change the patterns of the way we did it. We no longer keep the big red bucket of ice cream in the freezer, no longer keep the chips and the cookies for the grandkids in the closet.
Announcer: Frenchy Risco also recognizes the importance of changing his diet.
Frenchy Risco: You will have high blood pressure and diabetes before you know it and that's because for years we've had improper diets, improper ways that we cook our food and when it's generation after generation and you don't know any better, the end result is that you don't change and it's imperative that everybody change their diet.
Announcer: Frenchy was so determined to change his eating habits that he enrolled in classes to learn how to cook healthier food.
Frenchy Risco: At this class, they taught us how to cook it -- not only did they cook it for you, so that you could see what it should look like and what it should taste like, then they teach you how to do it yourself. You'd be surprised at what some of this food tastes like -- so good!
Announcer: Dr. Gavin, who heads up the National Diabetes Education Program, emphasizes that it's the small steps that can make the difference.
Dr. James Gavin: In this campaign we are really trying to get people to understand that it is not necessary to run a marathon, it is not necessary to go to the gym every day. Small steps are required. 150 minutes of walking a week, 30 minutes a day for five days a week. It is not necessary to go on a starvation diet. It is not necessary to lose 100 pounds. Five to seven percent of your starting body weight. For a 200 pound person -- 15 pounds over a two-year period. Small steps.
Announcer: Carmencita Domingo is doing just that -- she's taking small steps with older adults in her community by getting them to exercise.
Carmencita Domingo: I will tell my friends and family how good it is to have a good health because you are not sick, you are not miserable, and there are ways to follow it, to prevent it and that is by the combination of good, healthy eating, portion control and exercise.
Dr. James Gavin: When you realize that the small investment of increasing your activity by doing something as simple as walking could cut your risk for heart attacks, blindness, strokes, kidney failure, amputations, that's an investment worth making. Small step, a huge reward.