November is national “Diabetes Awareness Month”. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 26 million Americans have diabetes. This includes children with type I or insulin-dependant as well as those adults and children (yes children) who develop preventable type II diabetes due to factors like obesity and inactivity.
Prevention. Now there’s a concept. One of the most common criticisms of the health care system as it currently exists is that there is little-to-no coverage for prevention services. Personally, I am not sure that there needs to be insurance coverage to take responsibility for our own health and well-being. I also realize that maybe some of us just don’t know where to start.
To that end, let me introduce you to the Diabetes Prevention Program. This year-long program is available through the YMCAs and many county health departments around the country. For a reasonable fee (and maybe your insurance will cover this) you can attend a 16 week core program, and then transition into a once-a-month maintenance program for 8 months. Many of these classes are facilitated by health care providers like myself. The goal is to have you lose 7% of your weight and increase your physical activity to 150 minutes (or more) per week. You learn skills and strategies to meet these goals and have the ongoing support of your coach and the other participants in your group.
Solid evidence has shown that early and aggressive intervention can reverse the disease’s course for people with prediabetes and reduce its devastating impact on people already diagnosed. Lifestyle changes and a 5- to 7-percent weight reduction can reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in people with prediabetes.
The Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance (DPCA) is an employer- and community-based initiative. The DPCA was launched in April 2010 through a partnership with UnitedHealth Group and the Y of the USA. It has since expanded to include a number of large employers; maybe even yours!
The DPCA programs are based on studies funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH), CDC and other federal agencies. Since the launch of the DPCA, its two signature programs have expanded to reach more than 7.8 million people. You could be next.!
If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes or are concerned about your specific risk factors for diabetes, please call your local YMCA or health department today. Give yourself the gift of good health for years to come.