American Diabetes Association


Founded in 1940, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) is a leading 501(c)3 nonprofit health organization in the United States. It boasts more than 280,000 members and has a network of more than one million volunteers. The ADA serves 800 local groups within 53 state groups.


The ADA was created by a group of physicians and was originally intended to share information among doctors, researchers, and other healthcare professionals. As the organization made more and more contact with the public, advocating for the rights of people with diabetes and sponsoring programs such as children's camps, the group opened its membership to the public. The ADA has since created different divisions and programs aimed at increasing awareness and providing support. In 2009, the ADA started its Stop Diabetes campaign, an annual effort with the goal of bringing at least one million people into the fight against diabetes.


The mission of the ADA is to prevent and cure diabetes and to improve the lives of all people affected by diabetes.

To fulfill their mission, the ADA promotes research, provides information, and advocates to find means of preventing and curing diabetes. The ADA uses different techniques to educate people at risk of or with diabetes so that they can improve their quality of life. The ADA also disseminates information to healthcare professionals and to family and caregivers of those with or at risk for diabetes. The organization is one of the largest advocates for the rights of people with diabetes.


ADA members include but are not limited to physicians, nurses, dietitians, physical and occupational therapists, other health professionals, and any person affected by diabetes mellitus. The ADA offers membership to both consumers and health professionals who pay annual membership dues. Consumer membership is for people with diabetes, their families, and caregivers. Consumer members receive monthly issues of Diabetes Forecast magazine, discounts on ADA books and cookbooks, and access to a network of diabetes support and informational resources. Consumer membership dues are $28 annually.

Professional membership provides health professionals, research scientists, and diabetes educators with recent information in diabetes research and treatment options. As members, they receive benefits such as access to the ADA journal that is most relevant to their practice, registration discounts for ADA scientific sessions, and discounts on medical journals and books. Professional memberships can range from $50– $350 annually.

Education program recognition

To ensure quality education for people with diabetes, the ADA endorses the National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education Programs. The Standards are designed to endorse any healthcare setting offering diabetes education, from physicians' offices and HMOs to clinics and hospitals. All applicants must meet the National Standards before they are awarded the endorsement from the ADA.

The National Diabetes Advisory Board (NDAB) developed the National Standards for Diabetes Patient Education Programs. The ADA then endorsed the Standards in 1983 while participating in the nationwide pilot testing of the Standards and review criteria in 1984. The first edition of the Standards was published in Diabetes Care in 1984. In 1986, an application and review process was established through the ADA to determine whether an education program met the Standards. Then in 1987, the first programs to meet the Standards were recognized by the ADA.


The ADA supports a variety of tools to educate its members and the public.

Their National Call Center provides diabetes information and referral for callers nationwide through their toll-free 800 number. The call center responds to approximately 350,000 inquiries each year.

The ADA also supports a website that is available for anyone with Internet access with links to pertinent diabetes and diabetes prevention information, advocacy, membership information, and community and local events.

ADA research

Funds provided by ADARF support peer-reviewed basic and clinical diabetes research proposed to prevent, treat, and/or cure diabetes. Past research projects supported by the ADARF vary from microcellular research to educational and psychological issues related to diabetes.

All ADARF grants become part of the Diabetes Research database that is accessible to anyone with access to the ADA website. This database provides brief descriptions of each funded project and gives brief summaries on the value the study findings may have for the field of diabetes research. Database contents are updated at least every six months.

Other methods ADA uses to distribute research findings are through Access: Diabetes Research, and the Forefront Research magazine. Both publications present summaries of diabetes research.


The ADA is the world's foremost publisher in the field of diabetes literature, including Diabetes Forecast, a monthly consumer magazine, and a range of publications and journals for research and healthcare professionals, such as Diabetes, Diabetes Care, Diabetes Spectrum, Clinical Diabetes, and access to a comprehensive library of medical management guides.

Fund-raising activities

Each year, the ADA state chapters organize local events to increase awareness of diabetes within their communities, while at the same time helping to raise money for the ADA. The state chapters assist in organizing the ADA signature fund-raising events.

A condition in which the body either does not make or cannot respond to the hormone insulin. As a result, the body cannot use glucose (sugar). There are two types, type 1 (formerly called juvenile onset) and type 2 (formerly called adult onset).
Diabetes self-management education and support (DSME)—
The ongoing process of facilitating the knowledge, skills, and ability necessary for prediabetes and diabetes self-care, as well as activities that assist people in implementing and sustaining the behaviors needed to manage their condition on an ongoing basis, beyond or outside of formal self-management training.
A healthcare professional who specializes in individual or group nutritional planning, public education in nutrition, or research in food science. To be licensed as a registered dietitian (RD) in the United States, a person must obtain a bachelor's degree in a nutrition-related field and pass a state licensing examination.
National Diabetes Advisory Board—
Established by congress in 1976 to insure teh implementation of the long-range plan of the National Commission on Diabetes to combat diabetes. There are seven Federal health officers as members of the board in addition to seven health professionals and five members of the general public.
National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education Programs—
The National Standards for Diabetes Self-Management Education are designed to define quality Diabetes Self-management Education and Support (DSME) and support and to assist diabetes educators in providing evidence-based education and self-management support. They also serve as a guide for nonaccredited and nonrecognized providers and programs.

The signature events that occur annually are America's Walk for Diabetes; Tour De Cure, a cycling event that takes place in over 70 cities nationwide; and School Walk for Diabetes, an educational, school-based program that promotes community service, school spirit, and healthy living to students. Another unique fundraising campaign, Kiss-A-Pig, is a tribute to the pig for aiding in the discovery of the role of insulin for people with diabetes. It ends with the participant who raises the most money kissing the pig.

One of the goals of the ADA is to make the public aware of diabetes and the serious health effects it may have on a person. Throughout the year, the ADA sponsors events to educate the public about diabetes and diabetes prevention. Every November, the ADA sponsors American Diabetes Month, a month-long public awareness activity with the goal of raising awareness about serious and often preventable diabetes complications. A variety of events and educational activities are included in this awareness effort. The American Diabetes Alert is another program conducted annually on the fourth Tuesday in March to raise awareness about the seriousness of pre-diabetes and diabetes and its risk factors. The centerpiece of the Alert is a diabetes risk test, which is widely distributed and promoted through community activities and national and local media.

For professionals, the ADA provides educational and informative materials and programs through various media. Annually, they sponsor a Scientific Sessions diabetes conference, in addition to other medical and scientific programs. The ADA publishes and updates their medical care guidelines and recommendations for health professionals and also supports special interest groups.

Program services

The ethnic groups in the United States with the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes are African Americans, Mexican Americans, Pima Indians, Asian Americans, and Pacific Islanders. The ADA reaches out to these communities through community campaigns.

THE DIABETES ASSISTANCE AND RESOURCES PROGRAM (DAR). DAR, which means, “to give” in Spanish, provides valuable information in English and Spanish to the Latino/Hispanic community. The goal of the DAR program is to increase awareness of the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of prevention and control.

DIABETES SUNDAY AND GET UP AND MOVE. The program's goal is to increase awareness about the seriousness of diabetes in the African American community and importance of early diagnosis and treatment. The program includes fun and informative church and community-based activities.

AWAKENING THE SPIRIT: PATHWAYS TO DIABETES PREVENTION AND CONTROL. This program is aimed at the Native American community, including American Indians, Alaska Natives, and Native Hawaiians. The program stresses the importance of choosing a healthy lifestyle for oneself and the generations that will follow.

Youth programs

The ADA is the largest provider of camps for children with diabetes in the world. Each year, more than 10,000 children benefit from camping programs provided through ADA funding.

The organization has developed a youth zone program that provides a web site especially for kids. It offers games, tips, links, and information to help kids manage their diabetes.

The ADA also provides information and resources for teens. It gives information on how diabetes may impact one's lifestyle. It gives resources and tools to help the teen understand diabetes and how it impacts the choices they make and their health.


Realizing a need for equality for those with diabetes, the AADA formed the Government Affairs & Advocacy program to help fulfill their mission of improving the lives of all those affected with diabetes. The main goals of this program are to:

See also Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics ; Diabetes mellitus ; Diabetic diet ; Gestational diabetes ; Insulin ; Low-sugar diets ; Metabolic syndrome ; Obesity .



American Diabetes Association, 1701 North Beauregard St., Alexandria, VA, 22311, (800) DIABETES (342-2383),, .

Megan C.M. Porter, RD, LD
Revised by David Newton

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.