New Diabetes Prevention Program that is Working for Seniors

The Diabetes Prevention Program is a new system that is aimed at helping the elderly who are at risk to suffer from Type 2 diabetes help keep track of their weight and manage any pre-symptoms of the disease. Known as a “lifestyle modification program,” this simple system is showing amazing results for its participants and has the potential to help millions of seniors across the country.

Diabetes Prevention Program

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) began to roll out a national Diabetes Prevention Program in 2012. Now, 527 organizations around the country that includes healthcare providers, community groups, colleges, churches, and employers offer this program in every state, often in multiple sites. The newest development in the program is an experimental online version, and it may be the largest national health effort that no one has ever heard of.

The results for the participants in the Diabetes Prevention Program have been impressive. A large clinical trial in 2002 showed that this type of program and the resulting weight loss reduced the incidences of diabetes by 58% in 1,000 participants in the trial compared to those who did not. For people over the age of sixty, that number rose to 71%.

The CDC estimates that in its first two years nearly 50,000 Americans have enrolled in one of its diabetes prevention programs. They are aimed at people who have blood glucose levels, weight, or other factors that suggest that they may have an increased risk of developing diabetes. Not intended as a diet or as a fad, this prevention program is aimed at helping people lose weight, adopt new habits, and look at eating healthy and exercising as a new way of life.

How the Program Works

Participants in the program meet once per week in a room at a local YMCA, church, or other common site. They step on a scale and show the program leader their logs where they record what they have eaten for the past week in addition to the amount of exercise that they have gotten. Then, the participants sit around a table and discuss what worked for them and what did not over the previous week. It gives the participants a chance to get suggestions in addition to offering advice to others.

Most participants of the program are in their fifties and sixties; however, it is not uncommon to see someone in their eighties taking part. The curriculum involves sixteen weekly sessions and monthly follow-ups for a year. The goal of these programs, in addition to an hour and a half of exercise per week, is significant weight loss. At a four percent reduction in body weight, there is a reduced chance of diabetes. This program aims to get participants down between five and seven percent.

Why This Program Works

Experts believe that this prevention program is working for a variety of reasons. For one, seniors tend to be more engaged in these types of programs. They realize the direct effects that a prevention program like this one can have. Another reason is that many seniors see the effects of diabetes in their friends and loved ones. Almost ten percent of the U.S. population has Type 2 diabetes, and for people over the age of 65, over one-quarter of the population has the disease. With 86 million Americans that are pre-diabetic, the need for diabetes prevention programs will continue to grow.

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