Y launches diabetes prevention programIf you or someone you know has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, there is a unique opportunity right in Alexandria to take part in a program that’s intended to help delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
By: Amy Chaffins, Alexandria Echo Press
If you or someone you know has been diagnosed with pre-diabetes, there is a unique opportunity right in Alexandria to take part in a program that’s intended to help delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.
Alexandria YMCA is one of 22 sites nationwide selected to offer the Diabetes Prevention Program.
“This is an opportunity that generally goes to a larger market,” said Alexandria YMCA Director Jeff Bartholomew. “We’re very fortunate to be part of this program.”
The program is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed that by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a small amount of weight, a person with pre-diabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent.
“Making a change is not easy, but this program is designed to have continued support in place to help prevent the onset of this chronic disease,” said Kara Elwood, Alexandria YMCA’s health enhancement director.
Pre-diabetes often precedes the onset of type 2 diabetes; diabetes is the leading cause of heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney disease and nerve disease.
People with pre-diabetes have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be called diabetes. In fact, about one in three American adults are pre-diabetic and many of them may not know they are at risk. In Minnesota, more than one million people are pre-diabetic.
People with pre-diabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they take steps to prevent or delay diabetes – and that’s what the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program is designed to do.
Elwood has seen the success of the program first-hand when she led a similar program at the Willmar YMCA. “I have seen an individual diagnosed with pre-diabetes get rid of his medications, feel better and have more energy, and last spring, he completed his first half-marathon. It was pretty amazing,” she said. “This program has been successful for people, especially in a community setting.”
Participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program will take part in a 16-week session that focuses on changing their lifestyle. In a classroom setting at the local YMCA, the once a week, one-hour sessions will provide participants with information about healthy eating, physical activity and other behavior changes.
Some of the class topics include: Lifestyle Balance, Active Way of Life, Calorie Detective, Talking Back to Negative Thoughts and more.
In addition, after the 16-week program ends, monthly check-ins and support sessions will be offered through the year.
Through the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, the goal is for participants to reduce body weight by 7 percent and increase physical activity up to 150 minutes per week.
“The hardest step is always the first step and that first class is always the hardest to fill because people aren’t sure what to expect,” Elwood said.
“This program is something that’s very much needed,” said Alexandria Clinic’s Diabetes Education Program Coordinator Cathy Dreher. “We have such a large population of people in the pre-diabetes stage and many are at high risk because they have a family history of diabetes and obesity. Unfortunately, as years go by, we’re going to see more and more people with diabetes.”
How to participate
To qualify for the program, individuals must be overweight and at high risk for developing diabetes or have been diagnosed by a physician as someone with pre-diabetes. People diagnosed with type 2 diabetes do not qualify.
The three largest medical facilities in the area – Alexandria Clinic, Broadway Medical Center and Douglas County Hospital – are supporting the program by referring pre-diabetic patients to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. A doctor’s referral is preferred, but the YMCA staff will help individuals with a self-referral test and checklist.
The first session of the Diabetes Prevention Program begins Thursday, January 27, at 6:30 p.m. at the Alexandria YMCA. The cost to participate is $170 for YMCA members and $195 for non-members. YMCA financial assistance is available for those who qualify.
For more information about the program or to check if you qualify, contact Kara Elwood at the Alexandria YMCA at (320) 834-9622 or e-mail email@example.com.