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The YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program

12/24/2019 06:10AM ● By Claudia Mosby

Sugar Balance

January 2020
By Claudia Mosby
Photo: Ronda Alvey

“Lifestyle change is kind of big,” says Pauline Asbill, “and small lifestyle changes made over time help to form new habits.” This is certainly true for those individuals with prediabetes for whom new dietary, exercise and stress management habits can help prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

Asbill serves as the community integrative health program manager and coordinator of the Diabetes Prevention Program at the Shasta Family YMCA. This program uses a research-based curriculum developed by the Centers for Disease Control and an infrastructure co-developed by the YMCA to effectively spread the program nationwide. One of the more recent launches, the Shasta Family YMCA welcomed its first Diabetes Prevention Program participants in January 2019.

Half of Shasta County residents are pre-diabetic – the fourth-highest rate out of the 58 California counties. Left untreated, prediabetes can turn into Type 2 diabetes, which puts a person at higher risk of heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and loss of toes, feet or legs.

The YMCA program aims to keep that from happening. Lifestyle coaches facilitate the year-long program, which relies on a peer support model. Asbill believes this produces greater accountability and higher success rates. “The lifestyle coaches are not prescribing a diet or exercise plan,” she says. “They’re encouraging mutual support and incremental growth.”

Cohorts include eight to 15 members who meet weekly for the first four months, bi-weekly for the next two months, and once monthly thereafter through the year’s end. Goals include a 7 percent reduction in participant body weight and an increase in exercise to 150 minutes per week (measured as 30 minutes, five times per week).

The first two cohorts graduated last month and Asbill expects to begin a new cohort this month or next, since people often commit to making health and lifestyle changes in the new year. Participants must have a diagnosis of prediabetes, a body mass index of 25 or greater and be 18 or older.

YMCA membership is not required, but participants who attend and commit to the program receive a three-month complimentary gym membership to support their fitness goals. The Diabetes Prevention Program cost, covered by many health insurance plans including Medicare and Medi-Cal, is $429 for the year. Additionally, the Shasta Family YMCA offers partial financial assistance, depending on a participant’s income level.

“Research demonstrates the Diabetes Prevention Program has been more effective than medication in preventing the development of Type 2 diabetes,” says Asbill. “The peer sharing and support are foundational to the program’s success.” •

Shasta County Prediabetes Quick Facts

50% of adults 18+ have pre- or undiagnosed diabetes.

4th highest rate out of 58 California counties.

Shasta County Rates by Age Group: 30% age 18 – 39 • 52% age 40 – 54 • 62% age 55 – 69 • 74% age 70+

Health Consequences

Without intervention, prediabetes can become Type 2 diabetes and present serious health problems including:

Heart attack, Stroke, Blindness, Kidney failure, Loss of toes, feet, or legs

Risk Factors for Developing Prediabetes

Obesity or Being Overweight • Family History • 45 Years or Older • Sedentary Lifestyle • High Blood Pressure • History of Gestational Diabetes • History of Polycystic Ovary Syndrome

Race and ethnicity: African Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at higher risk.

Types of Diabetes

Prediabetes - Higher than normal blood glucose (sugar) levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. 

Type 2 Diabetes -  Formerly called “adult onset” and “non-insulin” dependent diabetes. 90% of diabetics are Type 2.  In this case, the body produces some insulin but cannot use it properly. Untreated prediabetics can become Type 2 diabetics. 

Type 1 Diabetes - Formerly called “juvenile diabetes” and “insulin dependent” diabetes. In Type 1, the body does not produce its own insulin.

Contact your doctor or medical clinic for diabetes screening.