Addressing Diabetes Prevention During National Diabetes Awareness Month

Contributed by: YMCA

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the Y is working to build awareness of prediabetes. Prediabetes is a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes, and it’s a condition that is directly improved with physical activity. 

An estimated one in three adults in the U.S. (79 million people) has prediabetes, yet just 11 percent of those individuals know they have it. People with prediabetes have a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases such as heart disease and stroke.

In 2010, YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) partnered with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance to roll out the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is based on the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program tested by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), which showed lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction reduce the number of new cases of diabetes by 58%—and by 71% in individuals over age 60.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a year-long program beginning with 16 one-hour weekly classroom sessions led by trained lifestyle coach. The program provides a supportive environment where participants work in small groups to learn about healthier eating and increasing their physical activity in order to reduce their risk for diabetes.  Following these weekly sessions, participants meet monthly for added support in reaching the main program goals of reducing body weight by 5-7 percent and participating in at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Through lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can reduce their risk for type 2 diabetes.

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One of the main program goals is increasing moderate physical activity equivalent to brisk walking. Participants gradually build up their physical activity minutes over the course of five weeks eventually reaching the goal of 150 minutes per week. The curriculum is facilitated to allow participants to explore how active they currently are, what they enjoy about being physically active and what they dislike about activity. A Lifestyle Coach has the group explore what types of physical activities the participants would like to do in order to increase their activity level, and helps the participants understand the benefits of being physically active throughout the week. Participants explore ways to incorporate moderate physical activity on a daily basis, and find ways to add movement into their daily routines for an increase in lifestyle activity. The combined effort of increasing moderate physical activity and increased lifestyle activity help participants on their journey to reduce their risk for developing diabetes.

Wonder if the program is available in your community? The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is currently available in nearly 700 program sites delivered by 100 Ys in 39 states. To date, more than 14,000 people have participated in the program. Program sites are available at both local Ys and community locations. Visit www.ymca.net/diabetes to learn more.