WEST VIRGINIA – Those who have a family history of diabetes or who have pre-diabetes have options – Davis Medical Center wants people to know it’s not too late to turn things around, and they are offering a year-long diabetes prevention program beginning March 21.
Jim Severino, who is the Director of Nutrition Services and Certified Diabetes Educator at DMC said the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) will meet weekly beginning at 5 p.m. March 21. After the first 16 weekly sessions, the class will begin gathering once monthly for the remainder of the year. Each class meets for about an hour and includes a weight check.
“A physician referral is not needed,” Severino said. “In fact, even if you haven’t been diagnosed but have a family history of diabetes, you qualify for enrollment. Prediabetes can be diagnosed from a simple blood test. A fasting glucose level that is 100 to 125 mg/dL may indicate issues related to pre-diabetes.”
Participants will learn about lifestyle modifications including healthy eating, physical activity, dealing with stress, and coping with challenges that can derail positive health goals.
“It’s not about giving up the foods you crave or engaging in a strenuous exercise program, we want to help people set realistic goals, ones they can live with and which will have a positive impact on their health over the long term,” Severino said.
Former DPP participant Liz Hare said she found the program very helpful. “With a family history of diabetes, I wanted to educate myself as much as possible to prevent diabetes in my own life and help other family members,” Hare said. “The program proved to be so informative, teaching me things I am incorporating into my life.”
“The instructors were knowledgeable, and I learned so much interacting with classmates. It’s a commitment that could save your life,” she added.
Davis Medical Center is one of seven in the state of West Virginia that offers the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) which is credentialed through the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). It is designed as a partnership of public and private organizations working to prevent or delay Type II diabetes.
“This year our partners are Kroger, Valley Health Care, the Elkins YMCA, and 1201 CrossFit,” Severino said. “We will take participants on-site to these locations for hands-on learning experiences in healthy shopping and reading food labels, fitness and activity demonstrations, and understanding behavioral health issues identified with a pre-diabetes or diabetes diagnosis,” he added.
“The partnerships make it convenient for people to participate in evidence-based, affordable, and high-quality lifestyle change programs to reduce their risk of Type II diabetes and improve their overall health,” he said. “We have had great success with this program for the past few years.”
“A diagnosis of prediabetes is a warning sign for Type II diabetes, however, it’s not too late to turn things around,” he said. “You can reverse course if appropriate lifestyle changes are made. These classes can help you get started to make those changes.”
According to Severino diabetes has an enormous economic impact on millions of individuals and their families, on workplaces, and on the United States health care system.
“In the last 20 years, the number of adults diagnosed with diabetes has more than tripled as the United States population has aged and become more overweight,” Severino said. “Now, more than 30 million Americans have diabetes, which increases their risk for a long list of serious health problems including heart attack, stroke, blindness, kidney failure, and lost of toes, feet or legs.
“In 2017, the estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion, which included $237 billion in direct medical costs and $90 billion in lost productivity. That amount is up 26 percent over a 5-year period,” Severino said.
He also said about 1 in 4 health care dollars is spent on people with diagnosed diabetes and that medical expenses for diabetics is around $16,750 annually on average which is 2.3 times higher than for people without diabetes.
Participation in the Diabetes Prevention Program is a serious time commitment but Severino said the results that they have seen in the past have been nothing but positive and encouraging.
“Making lifestyle changes is an ongoing process. Staying in the program for the full year is essential to help you stick to new habits. Your Lifestyle Coach and other group members can help you succeed,” he said.
To enroll in the free DPP program or for questions, call Severino at 304-637-3343.
There is an online test to see if you are at risk for diabetes is available at http://www.diabetes.org/are-you-at-risk/diabetes-risk-test.