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YMCA'S Diabetes Prevention Program Helps Metropolitan Washington Cut Risk of Developing Type 2 Diabetes

Special to The Informer | 11/7/2011, 2:26 p.m.

"I am elated that I joined the program and vigorously recommend the program to others," states a YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program participant.

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is helping residents of DC, MD, and VA cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes through the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, an innovative program that teaches people to make lifestyle changes that lead to greater health.

Nearly 26 million Americans have diabetes and a staggering 79 million people have pre-diabetes, a condition in which individuals have blood glucose levels that are higher than normal, but not high enough to be classified as diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke.

According to the CDC, more than 8% of DC residents have been diagnosed with diabetes, and the numbers are steadily growing. It is imperative that community and health organizations join forces to reverse this trend.

"The Y is dedicated to strengthening community, and the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program is helping individuals in metropolitan Washington avoid developing type 2 diabetes by teaching them new behaviors that can last a lifetime," said Angie L. Reese-Hawkins, President & CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. "Through this program, the Y is equipping more people in our community with the tools they need to live a healthier lifestyle and, ultimately, improving the health of our community as a whole."

The YMCA of Metropolitan Washington is one of 46 Ys nationwide participating in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that showed losing a moderate amount of weight and increasing physical activity lowers the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% in people with prediabetes.

The YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program. Individuals who particpate in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program take part in 16 one-hour classroom sessions with a trained lifestyle coach who helps them learn about healthy eating, physical activity and other lifestyle changes.

Following these sessions, participants meet monthly for up to a year for added support in reaching their ultimate goals of reducing body weight by 7 percent and participating in 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Through lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. In Silver Spring, MD, participants in our pilot program have taken advantage of the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program... and are already seeing real success.

The YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program is supported nationally by UnitedHealth Group and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and is available at 46 Ys in 23 states. Visit http://ymca.net/diabetes-prevention for more information. Also, to learn more about the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington's Diabetes Prevention Program, please contact Irmina Ulysse at 301.674.5364.