By: Amanda Wain and Jessica Muller
Over 29 million Americans are currently living with diabetes. Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure, lower limb amputations, and adult onset blindness. The disease also accounts for 20 percent of all health care spending in the United States. Given these facts, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has classified diabetes as a public health problem reaching epidemic proportions. Although these numbers may be daunting, there is hope in disease prevention efforts.
The CDC is working to reverse the diabetes epidemic by identifying treatment and prevention plans for at-risk populations. Through research and evidence based practices, the CDC established a structured lifestyle change program called the “Prevent T2: National Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program (DPRP)”. The DPRP enrolls adults who are considered at “high risk to develop diabetes,” or “pre-diabetic” by their doctors and immerses them in a year-long classroom style setting, complete with a lifestyle coach, who leads a curriculum in proper nutrition, weight loss, exercise, and stress management.
In February, New Editions employees Amanda Wain and Jessica Muller became certified Life Coaches for the DPRP. As part of this process, they attended a two-day conference where they learned how to lead a DPRP program and motivate and educate individuals at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The role of the lifestyle coach is to support program participants in reaching their goals by tracking their eating habits and activity levels, assessing progress on both a short term and long term basis, and engaging members in group conversation.
Individuals looking to lower their risk of developing diabetes often do not know where to begin. What should I eat? How can I change? How often do I need to exercise? These are common questions a participant in the DPRP program may ask. The program coach will introduce modules to the group to address these common concerns. The first six months of the program cover how to eat healthy and the amount of activity needed to show progress. The scheduled meetings hold the participants accountable for their own behavior changes, as their improvements are documented by the coach. Participants are encouraged to write in their “Action Plan Journal,” which allows them to develop a set strategy and stick to it at home. These strategies set the clients up to attain their health goals.
Short term fixes are not sustainable for long term health and the DPRP is a key component in preventing diabetes and improving health outcomes. In its first trial run, program participants lost five to seven percent of their body weight and experienced a 58 percent lower incidence of diabetes than individuals who did not participate in the program. These promising results help demonstrate that type 2 diabetes can be prevented and lifestyle changes are the critical to success.
If you are at risk for developing diabetes, ask your doctor about joining a DPRP. The classes can give you the skills you need to cut your risk by more than half, and the support system to lean on. Visit the national registry of recognized diabetes prevention programs to find a group near you.
Amanda Wain and Jessica Muller are certified Life Coaches for the DPRP and work on a New Editions contract that supports workers with diabetes.