YMCA launches diabetes prevention program

November is National Diabetes Awareness Month and the Westchester Family YMCA is hoping to help combat the disease with its newly launched Diabetes Prevention Program.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), more than 86 million people in the U.S. have prediabetes, but only 11 percent know they have the condition, where blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. These people are at a higher risk of developing diabetes, as well as other chronic diseases, but the YMCA is hoping to help change people’s health and lives with the inaugural program.

The Westchester Family YMCA is holding a kick-off presentation that is free to the community on Monday, November 10 from 6 to 8 p.m. to discuss the program’s guidelines and give tips on how to decrease people’s chances of developing diabetes. The presentation will be held at the YMCA, located at 8015 S. Sepulveda Blvd. in Westchester.

The program will officially begin in January of next year. The program is designed to help participants lose seven-percent of their body weight through healthy eating and exercise.

“Prediabetes is a nationwide concern that can be addressed at the community level through programs like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which takes treatment out of a clinical setting and into the community, making it more accessible to those who need it most,” said Alissa Singer, Chronic Disease Prevention Specialist of YMCA of Metropolitan Los Angeles. “The Y is one of the few organizations in the country with the reach and experience to help people make the necessary behavior changes to improve health.”

The Westchester Family YMCA is just one of 146 YMCAs nationwide participating in the year long program.

“We are proud to be offering the Diabetes Prevention Program to Westchester and the surrounding communities. Studies indicate an estimated 1 in 3 adults in the United States are prediabetic. Our goal is to help those living in our community by giving them the tools to lead a healthier life,” said Dawn Everard, YMCA Director of Healthy Lifestyles.

A trained lifestyle coach will help participants learn tactics for healthy eating, physical activity and other lifestyle changes during 16 one-hour weekly sessions. Following these sessions, participants will meet monthly for added support in reaching their ultimate goals of reducing their body weight and participating in 150 minutes of physical activity per week. Programs like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program have shown to prevent or delay new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent and as much as 71 percent in adults over the age of 60.

The basis for the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) with support from the CDC that showed how eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight could lead to better health in participants and an overall reduction of new type 2 diabetes cases.

To learn more about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, please contact Dawn Everard at (310) 670-4316 or via email at dawneverard@ymcala.org.

PHOTO: Dawn Everard and Robert Higgins will be leading the Diabetes Prevention Program.