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The Newest Shopping Spree Item: Diabetes Assessment

New risk assessment tools may help Americans decide whether they need to talk to their doctor about diabetes.  

Beginning next month, more than 3,600 Pursuant Health kiosks located in the pharmacy sections of hospitals and stores including WalMart, Safeway, and Schnuck Market will include a Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test among the range of free health tests they offer users.

“We're already engaging with over three million people in the country per month about their health,” said Ryan Sloan, Chief Marketing Officer at Pursuant Health, which is partnering with the American Diabetes Association in this effort.

Adding the Type 2 Diabetes risk assessment seemed like a natural step for the company, especially since the American Diabetes Association was already offering one on their website. The assessment asks users for basic information about age, gender, family history and medical history to estimate the user’s risk of Type 2 Diabetes.

The kiosks will make the test more accurate and more accessible, Sloan said. It will use the same questions as the online version, but will combine the answers with blood pressure and weight measurements taken by the kiosk. 

“It's fairly unique that you're getting real time biometric measurements and you’re combining that with behavioral data,” Sloan said.

Diabetes is a disease that causes above normal levels of blood glucose. Type 2 diabetes usually develops in adulthood, but has been diagnosed in children younger than 10 years old. It occurs when the body develops a resistance to insulin.

About 21 million people in the United States have been diagnosed with some form of diabetes, according to the National Diabetes Statistics Report, 2014, released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Between 90 and 95 percent of people with diabetes have the Type 2 form, according to the CDC.

Most people with diabetes can manage the disease through diet, exercise and medications to lower blood glucose levels. Americans spend an estimated $176 billion each year for diabetes treatment. An additional $69 billion is lost due to disability claims, inability to work, and premature death.

If the condition goes untreated it can lead to heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and other complications. That’s a scary prospect for the estimated 8.1 million Americans who are living with diabetes but haven’t yet been diagnosed.

Both Sloan and the text of the test point out that the test is a risk assessment tool not a diagnosis. Only a doctor can diagnose diabetes, but the test may help patients recognize when it’s time to talk to a doctor.

“We’re really trying to build awareness,” Sloan said.