Emmy-award winning actress and choreographer Debbie Allen, dancers from the hit televised dance competition So You Think You Can Dance, and Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. have teamed up to launch a national education and wellness program, the T2 Dance Crew, to encourage people with type 2 diabetes to increase physical activity as an important part of managing their condition.

“I saw firsthand how challenging it was for my dad to manage his type 2 diabetes,” said Debbie Allen. “He tried to make some changes in his lifestyle, but the one thing I couldn’t get him to do was exercise more. That’s why I joined the T2 Dance Crew campaign. We are showing millions of people how taking small steps, like dancing, can make a meaningful difference in managing diabetes. The best part is – everybody can dance and it’s fun!”

Program resources are available in both English and Spanish online at www.T2DanceCrew.com, where campaign ambassadors Debbie Allen and So You Think You Can Dance fan favorites Fik-Shun and Janette Manrara share their inspirational stories and lead an instructional dance video series in simplified Hip-Hop and Latin dance styles. The T2 Dance Crew also will host a series of local events that feature live dance classes taught by Fik-Shun and Manrara, health screenings and type 2 diabetes education across the country in partnership with leading community organizations.

Diabetes is a growing epidemic in the United States, affecting more than 26 million people. Racial and ethnic minorities have a higher burden of diabetes, worse diabetes control and are more likely to experience complications of the disease, which can be compounded by obesity and a lack of exercise. Nearly half of adults with type 2 diabetes do not achieve recommended levels of glucose control, and if left uncontrolled, type 2 diabetes can lead to serious complications. However, leading a healthy lifestyle, taking medication if prescribed and determining the appropriate diabetes care regimen for desired blood glucose control can help reduce the risk of these complications.

“Type 2 diabetes is a complex disease typically requiring lifestyle changes such as managing body weight that can often seem overwhelming,” says Richard Aguilar, M.D., Medical Director of Diabetes Nation. “I tell my patients to initially set realistic goals and develop a step-wise management plan that delivers results you can see, feel and build upon every day. The T2 Dance Crew can reach millions with these important and useful messages to motivate people to work with their healthcare provider and start taking small steps to better manage their diabetes.”

While research has shown that African Americans and Latinos with diabetes are less likely to engage in regular exercise than the general population, both populations gravitate toward dance as a cultural expression and pastime.

The American Diabetes Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activities at least 5 days a week. Dance as exercise has been shown to be effective for people with diabetes. A study completed by T2 Dance Crew advisor Theresa Garnero, executive director of Dance Out Diabetes, an organization using dance as a solution for community health, evaluated people with diabetes who participated in a monthly cultural dance program taught by dance experts. Most of those who kept with the program reduced or maintained their body weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and A1C, a measure of average blood glucose control over a period of two to three months.

“It is important that we support people with type 2 diabetes and high-risk populations by providing educational resources and tools that are relevant and compelling,” said Jimmy Ren, Ph.D., Therapeutic Area Lead, Metabolics, Medical Affairs, Janssen Pharmaceuticals, Inc. “By targeting realistic lifestyle modification goals with the T2 Dance Crew program, and providing therapeutic solutions for blood glucose control, we can help ignite real progress among millions of Americans affected by type 2 diabetes and together work toward achieving enduring success.”

The online hub for the T2 Dance Crew campaign, featuring an exclusive dance instruction video series and interactive educational resources in English and Spanish languages, is hosted on the Diabetic Connect platform of Alliance Health, the world’s largest social network for people and families living with diabetes. The T2 Dance Crew event series will be held in partnership with locally-based community organizations in the City of Miami Gardens, New York City and Houston. Visit www.T2DanceCrew.com for more information.

So You Think You Can Dance returns Wednesday, May 28 at 8/7c on FOX-TV.

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