Chronic Disease Prevention and Control Programs

Chronic disease prevention and control

The prevalence of chronic diseases that impact the health and well-being of individuals worldwide is increasing in every region and across all socioeconomic classes.

Half of all American adults have at least one chronic disease, while one in three adults has multiple chronic conditions. Chronic diseases are responsible for seven of 10 deaths every year and account for most of the country's health care costs.

Four of the most prevalent chronic diseases — cardiovascular disease, cancer, Type 2 diabetes, and obstructive pulmonary disease — are linked by common and preventable biological and behavioral risk factors: high blood pressure and cholesterol, obsesity, unhealthy diets, physical inactivity, and tobacco use. 

Just as chronic diseases share the same causes, many of the same interventions can be used to prevent them or lessen their severity.

Virginia Cooperative Extension's Family and Consumer Science Agents offer programs to help individuals establish healthy lifestyles to prevent and control major chronic diseases that impact the health of Virginia's residents.

Preventing type 2 diabetes

Stop Diabetes Now – Know Your Risk

Being proactive with your health is easier than ever and starts with knowing your health risks. A new report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention finds that 84 million American adults (1 in 3 adults) have prediabetes, but that 90 percent of them don’t know that they have it.

Prediabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood sugar is high, but not high enough to be classified as type 2 diabetes. It is an important sign that a person is at risk for developing type 2 diabetes, and is a risk factor for heart attack and stroke. The good news is that there are easy screening tests to tell if you have prediabetes, and the condition can often be reversed through simple changes in lifestyle.

Who is at risk for prediabetes? In general, people who are overweight or obese (check out your weight status on the chart below) and aren't regularly physically active. People who have a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes are also at higher risk, as are men and people over 40 years old. In addition, women with a history of gestational diabetes are at greater risk for having prediabetes.


You can find out if you are at risk for prediabetes by taking a simple online risk test at If after taking the test, you find that you are at increased risk, make an appointment to see your doctor, who will do a blood test to check your blood sugar. Diagnosis is the key. Once you know where you stand, you can take steps to reduce your risk.

The sooner people with prediabetes make healthy changes, the better their chance of reversing prediabetes. Now there is a proven program to help people do just that.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program helps people with prediabetes prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes. A lifestyle coach works with participants over an extended period and uses tested methods to help them learn to manage their weight, establish a regular routine of physical activity, and develop a healthy eating pattern. A program will be offered on the Virginia Tech campus in spring 2018.

If you think you are at risk, take the following steps:

  1. Take the online screening test;
  2. If at risk, make an appointment with your doctor; and
  3. Inquire about the National Diabetes Prevention Program being offered in the spring.
Family preparing healthy meal

Diabetes is a significant health issue worldwide and is the seventh-leading cause of death in the U.S. More than 30 million people in the U.S. live with diabetes, including more than 600,000 individuals in Virginia.

Poorly controlled diabetes impacts overall health and is associated with other conditions, including blindness, kidney failure, and heart disease and stroke. The high cost of diabetes goes beyond impacts on physical health, however: Poorly managed diabetes results in higher medical costs and lost productivity.

To help Virginia residents living with diabetes learn to manage their disease, Virginia Cooperative Extension's Family and Consumer Sciences Agents partner with local registered dietitians and certified diabetes educators to offer the Balanced Living with Diabetes program.

Balanced Living with Diabetes helps people with diabetes and their families learn more about how to choose a healthy diet and begin lifestyle practices that will prevent or slow the development of diabetes complications. 

Balanced Living with Diabetes (BLD) program

The BLD program consists of four, two-hour sessions each week and a three-month reunion class.

Targeting individuals with a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes or a hemoglobin A1c ≥ 5.7 percent, the program is conducted by local Family and Consumer Science Extension Agents in collaboration with community partners.  

A registered dietitian (RD) or certified diabetes educator (CDE) from the community co-facilitates the program with the Extension Agent and an Extension Master Food Volunteer.

Each class consists of an interactive presentation accompanied by an active learning component to reinforce the information. Physical activity is an important part of the program, and a pedometer is provided so that participants can monitor their activity. In addition, a food demonstration is conducted.

Dietary recommendations are based on a simple plate method – the Idaho Plate Method – that helps participants easily control the amount of carbohydrates they eat.

At each session, food preparation demonstrations and tastings give participants confidence in their ability to plan and prepare a diet for diabetes control. Recipes used for the demonstrations are found in the participant manual and in a cookbook provided to participants at the final reunion session.

For more information on Balanced Living with Diabetes, contact your local Virginia Cooperative Extension office.

Virginia Cooperative Extension Joins Initiative to Increase Colorectal Cancer Screenings to 80% by 2018

80% by 2018 is a movement in which hundreds of organizations have committed to eliminating colorectal cancer as a major public health problem and are working toward the shared goal of reaching 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018.

Virginia Cooperative Extension is in an ideal position to be a key player in this effort.

Extension will work in collaboration with colleagues from the University of Virginia to implement “The Colorectal Cancer Free Zone” throughout every unit within Virginia Cooperative Extension. The unique positioning of Extension will not only allow for the internal promotion of a colorectal cancer free workforce, but will help expand the reach of the program to at least 586,600 Virginians that need to be screened for Virginia to reach the desired 80% screening rate.


  • Colorectal cancer is preventable.
  • Colorectal cancer is detectable.
  • Colorectal cancer is treatable.
  • Colorectal cancer is beatable.


Colorectal cancer is the second deadliest cancer in United States1 and impacts communities throughout Virginia. Colorectal cancer usually begins as a non-cancerous polyp on the inner lining of the colon, some polyps become cancerous while others do not.2 Screening may help detect and remove polyps before they become cancerous. Although screening is an effective means of removing precancerous polyps, nearly 1 in 3 Americans meeting screening recommendation guidelines do not utilize these services.3 In addition to screening, lifestyle modifications such as increased physical activity and improved dietary habits may help prevent colorectal cancer from developing.4

Increased screening rates and lifestyle modifications are essential to reducing the public health burden of colorectal cancer. Virginia Cooperative Extension is in an ideal position to be a key player in this effort. To this end, Extension has recently pledged to join more than 750 national organizations in an initiative to increase colorectal cancer screening rates to 80% by 2018.

1 ACS Cancer Statistics Center

2 ACS, How Does Colorectal Cancer Start

3 NCCRT, 80% by 2018 Resource Packet

4 ACS, Colorectal Cancer Risk Factors

Five Myths About Colorectal Cancer

Myth: Colorectal cancer is a man’s disease.
Colorectal cancer is almost as common among women as men. Each year in the U.S., about 71,000 men and 64,000 women are diagnosed with colorectal cancer.

Myth: Colorectal cancer cannot be prevented.
In many cases, colorectal cancer can be prevented. Colorectal cancer almost always starts with a small growth called a polyp. If the polyp is found early, it can be removed – stopping colorectal cancer before it starts.

Myth: Age doesn’t matter when it comes to getting colorectal cancer.
Most colorectal cancers are found in people age 50 and older. For this reason, the American Cancer Society recommends that people at average risk start getting checked for this cancer when they’re 50.

Myth: It’s better not to get tested for colorectal cancer because it’s deadly anyway.
Colorectal cancer is often highly treatable. If it’s found and treated early (while it’s small and before it has spread), the 5-year relative survival rate is about 90%. But because many people are not getting tested the way they should, only about 4 out of 10 are diagnosed at this early stage when treatment is most likely to be successful.

Source: American Cancer Society


  • Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer death in the U.S. yet it can be prevented or detected at an early stage.
  • There are several screening options available to detect colorectal cancer, including simple take-home options. Talk to your doctor about getting screened.
  • Preventing colon cancer or finding it early doesn’t have to be expensive. There are simple, affordable tests available. Get Screened! Call your doctor today.
  • Most health insurance plans cover lifesaving preventive tests. Use the benefits you are paying for to get screened for colon cancer. Call your doctor today.

Source: National Colorectal Cancer Roundtable

Coming soon ...

80% by 2018 Colorectal Cancer Screening

      • Sonya Ferguson
      • Sonya Furgurson, Unit Coordinator, Extension Agent, 4-H Youth Development, Halifax County Cooperative Extension

        "Practicing what we preach is not always easy. Those of us who are service-minded often put others ahead of ourselves. We go too long before getting the oil changed in our cars and reschedule or cancel appointments to accommodate others. I’m guilty. My doctor hounded me for two years to get a colonoscopy. I dreaded it for lots of reasons. However, in the end, all the worrying was unnecessary. Yes, the prep isn’t great, but it wasn’t horrible. The hour-and-15-minute ride from my house to the facility was fine, too. Even the anesthesia, which usually makes me violently ill, did not make me even the slightest bit nauseous. I received my results immediately. I’m good for another 5 years — one less thing to worry about."

      • Leslie Fain
      • Leslie Fain, FCS Extension Agent, James City County

        “My family history is high with cancers, my mother passed at age 48 with melanoma, ignoring the change of a mole on her arm. My father had colon cancer at age 58 and died from both colon and esophageal cancer at age 60. My first scare was at age 36 when I experienced bleeding and had my first colonoscopy and discovered I had premalignant polyps. My colonoscopies have been at first every year, then every 3 years as there were no issues or signs, and next every 5 years. I am due again now, and will be scheduling the procedure. My gastroenterologist now wants my grown daughters at age 30 to begin their screenings as well. Please know your family’s history of cancer, and talk to your doctor about when you and your family members should start being screened for colon cancer.”

      • Jackie Tull
      • Jackie Tull, 4-H Youth Development, Accomack County Cooperative Extension

        “I would like to tell my experience with colon cancer to encourage people who have digestive issues to get it checked out by a doctor. I was having problems with weight loss and digestive issues for about eight months and had lost 25 pounds in that time. My gastroenterologist suggested I have a colonoscopy since it had been 8 years since my first one. During the procedure he found a polyp growing in the wall of my intestines and suggested I have it removed. I underwent surgery at which time they removed a foot of my intestines and it was cancer. I finished chemo in February, 2016 and so far all of my follow up test have come back clear. I was in the lucky 41% of cases that were found early and I was 49 years old at the time. The doctor told me that a key sign of colon cancer is unexplained weight loss. My message is that if you are having digestive symptoms and unexplained weight loss, go see your doctor.”

Diabetes Prevention Program

K. Ball
"Numbers going in the right direction. Doc very pleased yesterday. Glucose went from 123 last April to 106 yesterday. Cholesterol from 225 last April to 153 yesterday. Triglycerides from 230 last April to 93 yesterday. Blood pressure 110/78. Yay!"

M. Hyman
"Hi, I just got back from my doctor's appt.! I have very good improvement in my labs. My A1C is 5.6!!! It was over 6. I am no longer prediabetic. All my other labs are better. I still need to work on triglycerides. They are being stubborn. My good cholesterol is higher, too. YAY! She was so excited about my weight loss, too. This is what I really was working towards – a healthier me. Thanks for teaching me how to be healthy."

A. Cosans
Good morning! Just wanted to say thanks for all the great recipes and support. I am down to 170, which is really good because the last two weeks, I’ve been sick with bronchitis, and even though I really could not exercise, I watched what I ate and lost. I continue to eat better and move more. I joined Winchester Wheelmen and have gone on several bike rides over 20 miles. It feels good to move. I did a review of my weight with my doctor. In 2011, I weighed 112 lbs., so I’m going in the right direction. Thanks again for everything."

"Dear Mrs. Debra S. Jones,
Before the program, I was prediabetic and taking metformin, but now I am off the prescription medication and down 20 pounds. My doctor changed my blood pressure mediation, and I only take my blood presume meds every other day now. I feel so much better, and I have more energy. Thank you again. This was an awesome program!"

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Cancer webinars

Building and Bridging Resources to Create a Community Without Colorectal Cancer
Presented by Melinda Conklin, M.S., M.Ed., Founder and Executive Director, Hitting Cancer Below the Belt (HBC2)

    Taking the Fight to Colorectal Cancer: Latest advancements in early detection and treatment
    Presented by Dr. Khalid Matin, Medical Director, Community Oncology and Clinical Research Affiliation, VCU Massey Cancer Center


    Get the Facts: Breast Cancer
    Presented by Dr. Young Ju, associate professor in the Department of Human Nutrition, Foods, and Exercise


    Breast Cancer Prevention and Control: Key messages your community needs to hear
    Presented by Kristin Harris, executive director of the Central Virginia affiliate of Susan G. Komen; and Carlin Rafie, Extension Specialist with VCE


    Get Moving to Reduce your Colorectal Cancer Risk


    Have your Cake and Eat It, Too: Decreasing your colorectal cancer risk through smart food choices


    Colorectal Cancer: What is it, and how do I get screened?
    Presented by Dr. Farrel Adkins, specialist in colorectal surgery, Carilion Healthcare; and Dr. John Michos, medical director, Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield


Get the Facts webinar series

Contact: Young H. Ju -

  1. Soy, Soy Isoflavone, and Breast Cancer
  2. Breast Cancer
  3. New Guidelines for High Blood Pressure
  4. Seaweeds and Diabetes
  5. Honey and Diabetes
  6. Chromium and Type 2 Diabetes
  7. Cinnamon and Diabetes
  8. To soy or not to soy
  9. Gluten-free
  10. Low fat, reduced fat and no fat
  11. Food Allergy
  12. Sugar-free, reduced/less sugar, or no added sugar: what does it mean?
  13. Genetically modified foods
  14. Plant-based diets
  15. Dietary nitrate and nitrite on heart disease
  16. Flaxseed/flaxseed oil and heart disease
  17. Coenzyme Q10 and heart disease
  18. Hawthorn and heart disease
  19. Arjuna and heart disease
  20. Cocoa and heart disease
  21. Plant sterols and cholesterol
  22. Coconut oil and heart disease
  23. Diabetes
  24. Bitter melon and diabetes
  25. White mulberry and diabetes


80% by 2018 emblem

Sign the VCE 80% by 2018 Pledge

Reaching 80% screened for colorectal cancer by 2018

Upcoming Events

Check back soon for scheduled events!


Carlin Rafie