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Want people to take prediabetes seriously? Make them laugh.

Doctor and patient laughingIn January 2016, the first-ever national campaign to raise awareness about prediabetes launched on TV, radio, print, and digital media. A lot of people thought it was funny. But that was a good thing.

The problem is clear: 86 million US adults have prediabetes, and 90% of them don’t know they have it. With prediabetes, blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes comes with long-term risks to health, including type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke, but there usually aren’t any noticeable symptoms.

So how do you get millions of people to take prediabetes seriously enough—and personally enough—to find out if they may have it?

CDC's answer: partner with the Ad Council, American Diabetes Association, and American Medical Association to develop a public service advertising (PSA) prediabetes awareness campaign. Reach out to millions at risk and motivate them to take the first step—and take a 1-minute prediabetes risk test.

Awareness First

Research shows that adults aged 40-64 years (the target audience) are concerned about their risk for type 2 diabetes and want to be healthier. But they have busy lives—kids, jobs, social events—there's no problem finding a reason to avoid taking care of themselves. They often keep those excuses to themselves, though, making it easier to avoid making healthy changes.

This understanding led to the multi-year campaign's key message: Prediabetes is real, and you could have it. Know where you stand. From there, the creative concept was developed: No one is excused. And then the approach: make it funny so people pay attention.

Humorous PSAs in both English and Spanish were designed to get noticed in a sea of other ads. Just one call to action keeps it simple: find out your risk for prediabetes at DoIHavePrediabetes.org. This dedicated website features lifestyle tips, a quick quiz to determine risk, and links to programs recognized by CDC as part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP).

At the January 21, 2016 launch, the Ad Council distributed PSAs to 33,000 TV and radio outlets, and print, mobile, and web channels nationwide (all PSAs run in time and space donated by the media). Also included were links to AdCouncil.org and PSACentral.org, where campaign assets such as posters and web banners could be downloaded.

86 million Americans have prediabetes

Ready to find out your risk? Visit DoIHavePrediabetes.org.

Taking the Test

With DoIHavePrediabetes.org just a click away, the prediabetes risk test is right at people's fingertips by desktop, tablet, and smartphone. Visitors can print test results too to share with their doctor, or print the complete test and take it offline. With the interactive real-time test on TV and radio, audiences just have to answer 7 simple questions while they're watching or listening and they've taken the test, as simple as that. People can also text "RISKTEST" to 97779 to take the test via text message. They will then receive lifestyle tips and support by text in the weeks and months ahead.

Spreading the Word

As the prediabetes awareness campaign continues to grow—and make people laugh—it has captured the attention of media leaders, who in turn have helped to increase its reach and impact. Recent examples include:

  • Exclusive coverage on Good Morning America
  • Featured segment on The Dr. Oz Show
  • Named "Ad of the Week" in The Drum, an ad industry publication, against steep competition leading up to the Super Bowl
  • Coverage by Bloomberg News Online, CBS News, CNBC, CNN Money, Univision, U.S. News and World Report, Telemundo, Yahoo!, FOX, NBC, ABC, and NBC

Be sure to look—and listen—for the PSAs on your favorite TV, radio, digital, and outdoor channels.

Get to Know the National DPP

People with prediabetes who participate in the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program learn practical, real-life changes that can cut their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by as much as 58%. There are hundreds of CDC-recognized programs—including online options—so people in communities across the nation can participate.

About the Ad Council

The Ad Council brings together volunteer ad, media, and communications agencies to create and distribute public service messages to improve everyday lives. The council is known for Michelle Obama's "Let’s Move" campaign and classics like Smokey Bear ("Only You Can Prevent Forest Fires"), among many others. This is CDC’s first-ever Ad Council campaign.

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