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.


Colorectal Cancer

Colorectal cancer is preventable.

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 having healthy lifestyles 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 joined the national effort to increase colorectal cancer screening rates to 80% in every community. Extension Agents are increasing awareness of colorectal cancer, promoting colorectal cancer screening, and encouraging lifestyles that reduce cancer risk by conducting the Colon Cancer Free Zone program in worksites in their service communities.

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


The Colon Cancer Free Zone Program

The Colon Cancer Free Zone program (CCFZ) is a program conducted by Extension Agents in worksites to increase awareness of the preventable nature of colorectal cancer, and promote colorectal cancer screening.  CCFZ is designed using best practice principles of worksite health programs and includes information sessions covering the topics of colorectal cancer, screening guidelines, insurance coverage, and preventive lifestyle behaviors.  It is conducted in a campaign format that includes a strategic communication strategy targeting relevant screening barriers and facilitators, peer champions, and incentives.  Contact your local Cooperative Extension office for more information and to bring the program to your worksite.

CCFZ In-Service Training for Extension Agents

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80% by 2018 Colorectal Cancer Screening

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!"

Note: We've experienced issues with WebEx recordings playing in Firefox. If you get an error in Firefox, please try using a different browser, e.g., Chrome or Safari.

Adapting the National Diabetes Prevention Program for Diverse Audiences
This webinar presented information on developing marketing materials for the Diabetes Prevention Program, and considerations when conducting the program for diverse audiences. A representative from the CDC, an Extension Lifestyle Coach from Oklahoma who conducts programs with Native Americans, and a physician who directs a non-profit reaching out to Hispanic audiences provide their insights and recommendations.

Cancer webinars

Foods that Fight Colorectal Cancer
Presented by Christine LS Molmenti, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine, Hofstra/Northwell and Alice Bender, MS, RDN, Senior Director of Nutrition Programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research

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

The National Diabetes Prevention Program: Develop a quality, sustainable Extension program in your state

Because Virginia Tech/Virginia Cooperative Extension changed video providers, some of the links below may not work. Please contact Dr. Young Ju at to request access to the webinar.


  1. COVID-19 fact check
  2. Get the facts webinar weries: High-dose vitamin C and lung cancer
  3. Ginger and lung cancer
  4. Berberine and lung cancer
  5. 2019 new coronavirus outbreak update
  6. Fiber and Colorectal Cancer
  7. Folate and Colorectal Cancer
  8. Olive oil and Colorectal Cancer
  9. Kefir and Colorectal Cancer
  10. Colorectal Cancer
  11. Reishi Mushroom and Breast Cancer
  12. Ginseng and Breast Cancer
  13. L-Carnitine and Breast Cancer
  14. Vitamin D and Breast Cancer
  15. Soy, Soy Isoflavones, and Breast Cancer
  16. Cruciferous Vegetables and Breast Cancer
  17. Green Tea and Breast Cancer
  18. Breast Cancer
  19. New Guidelines for High Blood Pressure
  20. Seaweeds and Diabetes
  21. Honey and Diabetes
  22. Chromium and Type 2 Diabetes
  23. Cinnamon and Diabetes
  24. To Soy or Not to Soy
  25. Gluten-free
  26. Low Fat, Reduced Fat, and No Fat
  27. Food Allergy
  28. Sugar-free, Reduced/Less sugar, or No Added Sugar: What Does It Mean?
  29. Genetically Modified Foods
  30. Plant-based Diets
  31. Dietary Nitrate and Nitrite on Heart Disease
  32. Flaxseed/flaxseed Oil and Heart Disease
  33. Coenzyme Q10 and Heart Disease
  34. Hawthorn and Heart Disease
  35. Arjuna and Heart Disease
  36. Cocoa and Heart Disease
  37. Plant Sterols and Cholesterol
  38. Coconut Oil and Heart Disease
  39. Diabetes
  40. Bitter Melon and Diabetes
  41. White Mulberry and Diabetes














Basic RGB

Sign the 80% in Every Community Pledge

Reaching 80% of people screened for colorectal cancer in every community





Michelle Olgers, Director of Marketing and Communications
Virginia State University

Michelle Olgers

"After dragging my feet an entire year to do my recommended CRS at age 50, I finally scheduled my appointment. My primary care physician had given me the name of a doctor whom his office regularly recommended to patients. Because of some traveling I had to do for work, I scheduled the appointment about three months out. The office mailed me a thick packet of info on the procedure and called in a prescription to my local pharmacy for the products I needed to prep for the procedure.

Three months passed quickly; and before I knew it, it was one week before my CRS. I called my pharmacy to ensure that the items I needed were ready to pick up; I also checked that the over-the-counter item required for the prep was available. I picked up the items, and worked from home the next day as I started my 24-hour liquid diet and began to drink the colon-cleanse 'potions.'

I have to say that drinking the 'potion' wasn’t really that bad at all. My husband said it was because I was used to drinking what he likes to call 'vile concoctions' I make in the blender — drinks I like to call smoothies! Nonetheless, not eating for a day and drinking the less-than-yummy stuff was very tolerable. And the results, well, though not exactly pleasant, were just what the doctor ordered.

The next morning, my husband drove me to the out-patient office. I checked in, waited about 20 minutes, and was escorted to the back. I changed, talked to a few nurses and an anesthesiologist, and was then told to enjoy my 'nap.' For some reason, I was extremely tired that morning, so I welcomed the nap.

The nurse injected a fat syringe of clear liquid into my IV drip and said it would burn a bit, but would get better quickly. She was right.

The next thing I knew, I was waking up, procedure over. I never even knew it happened, and I had no tell-tale signs or aches or pains to even indicate anything was done to me. The doctor stopped in and gave me a clean bill of health, no problems. But, because my mother had polyps when she had her CRS, he recommended that I come back in five years instead of the usual ten.

After dressing, I was escorted out in a wheel chair to the car where my husband waited. The two of us drove five minutes to a Thai restaurant that, thankfully, was already open at 11:15, and we had a very enjoyable early lunch.

Upcoming Events

Check back soon for scheduled events!

Past Events


Foods that Fight Colorectal Cancer

Presented by Christine LS Molmenti, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor at the Donald and Barbara Zucker School of Medicine, Hofstra/Northwell and Alice Bender, MS, RDN, Senior Director of Nutrition Programs at the American Institute for Cancer Research

Olive oil and Colorectal Cancer

Dr. Young Ju, Department of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, Virginia Tech


Carlin Rafie