The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that 9.4% of the US population, or 30.3 million people, have type 2 diabetes. Diabetes—a disease that affects your body’s ability to regulate blood glucose levels—is not a death sentence. In fact, according to a recent article published in the journal BMJ, with proper management and weight loss, the symptoms of the disease can be reversed. However, poorly managed diabetes can lead to a number of complications—heart disease, kidney disease and nerve damage (neuropathy) to name a few—and to a reduced life expectancy.
There is a financial cost to poorly managed diabetes as well. According to the CDC, on average the annual out-of-pocket cost of medical care for someone without diabetes is $3,673 as compared to an annual cost of $9,202 for someone with diabetes. Add in treatment for the additional health conditions associated with type 2 diabetes, and that number jumps to $17,762, annually.
Prevention is Possible
Luckily type 2 diabetes is not only treatable, but also preventable. In the United States, it is estimated that 33.9% of the population—or 84.1 million adults—is prediabetic. Being prediabetic does not mean that you will end up with type 2 diabetes. Medications can reduce the number of new cases of diabetes by up to 31%. However, medications alone are not the answer. In fact, changes in lifestyle, like increased exercise and a healthier diet, are far more effective and can reduce the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58%, and 71% in individuals over the age of 60. For example, did you know that reducing your weight by just 2.2 pounds reduces your risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 13%!
The Diabetes Prevention Program
In order to promote the type of long-term and healthy lifestyle changes that are needed to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, the Door County YMCA, in partnership with Y-USA and the CDC, now offers the Diabetes Prevention Program. “The Diabetes Prevention Program is a yearlong program, which focuses on a 7% reduction in weight and increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week or more,” says Tonya Felhofer, Program Manager for the Diabetes Prevention Program.
The program is comprised of 25, classroom based, small group sessions: 1 through 16 are weekly, 17 through 21 are bi-weekly, and the remaining 4 are monthly, and each session is facilitated by a YMCA trained and certified lifestyle coach. Over the course of the program, participants learn about healthier eating habits and how to increase physical activity. Ms. Felhofer adds, “It’s really about the power of the group—this is very much a support group. We’re not imparting any new-fangled wisdom, we’re not promoting a specific diet, we’re promoting healthy lifestyle—balance and behavior change is really what the program boils down to—finding that healthy lifestyle balance, living it, and maintaining it for life. In any session,” she continues, “we talk about how to change the habits that we’ve developed. So, perhaps what you’re doing—the foods you’re eating, the amount of activity you get—it isn’t working. So, now it’s time to try something different. Each week, each session opens with, ‘How did the week go? What were the challenges?’ And then we, as a group, discuss how to address those challenges.”
Each session starts with a weigh-in. Initially, participants are accountable to the lifestyle coach. Eventually accountability transitions to the group, and then finally, there is a transition of accountability to self.
In order to take advantage of the Diabetes Prevention Program you must:
- Be 18 or older.
- Have a body mass index (BMI) of no less than 25.
- Be at risk for, or have been diagnosed, via a blood test, with prediabetes. Approved results include:
- Fasting Plasma Glucose between 100 – 125 mg/dL
- 2-hour Plasma Glucose between 140 – 199 mg/dL
- A1c between 5.7% and 6.4%
- Have previously been diagnosed with gestational diabetes.
- Or, if a blood test is unavailable, a qualifying risk score based on a combination of risk factors, like family history and age.
A Program that Works
As of December 2016, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program had helped more than 51,000 participants at more than 1,600 sites and in 47 states across the country. Participants are asked to give feedback on the program, and to date, participants report that by Week 16, 93% of participants had significantly reduce portion size, 88% had increased their amount of weekly exercise, and 91% saw an improvement in overall health.
Additional Programs and Services at DCMC
At Door County Medical Center, we have a number of programs that can help prevent type 2 diabetes or help those who have been diagnosed with type 1, type 2 or gestational diabetes manage the disease and its symptoms. DCMC’s Carmen Schroeder, a Registered Dietician Nutritionist and Certified Diabetes Educator, and Ruth Norton, a Registered Nurse and Certified Diabetes Educator, are on staff to help guide you through each program, either one-on-one or in a classroom setting. Additionally, Ms. Schroeder is currently serving as an advisor on the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program Community Advisory Committee, working to promote the YMCA’s role as a leader in chronic disease prevention and to improve the Door County area’s health and well-being.
DCMC programs include:
- Lifestyle Nutrition Coaching. This is a great option for those who have been diagnosed with prediabetes and would like one-on-one sessions. Lifestyle Nutrition Coaching is designed to support people interested in improving their health and well-being through diet. As Ms. Schroeder puts it; “Think of it as having a personal trainer to support healthy eating.”
- Medical Nutrition Therapy (MNT). Medical nutrition therapy is a therapeutic approach to treating medical conditions, specifically diabetes and kidney diseases, via the use of an individually tailored nutrition plan devised and monitored by registered dietitian nutritionist. Individuals meet to review their current eating habits and health history and work with the dietitian in setting nutrition goals to improve your health.
- Diabetes Self-Management Training. This option is for those with diagnosed diabetes that covers all aspects of disease management: from glucose monitoring; to medication management; to nutrition, exercise and stress management; to setting individual goals. As Ms. Schroeder says, “We give patients the information they need to stay healthy and safe. We give them the survival skills they need to manage their specific healthcare needs.”
If you, or a loved one has been diagnosed as prediabetic, and is interested in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, please contact Tonya Felhofer by phone: 920.743.4949, or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information on DCMC’s programs for managing the nutrition and lifestyle changes that a prediabetes or diabetes diagnosis entails, please visit our website: http://dcmedical.org/Medical-Services/Diabetes-Care, or connect with either of our Certified Diabetes Educators by calling 920.746.0510.
 For individuals of Asian descent BMI must be 22 or higher.