It may surprise you to learn that there are an estimated one million Kentuckians with prediabetes, which occurs when blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a Type 2 Diabetes diagnosis. Most commonly diagnosed through a fasting blood glucose or A1C test, prediabetes can also be diagnosed through a specific health risk assessment.

Disturbingly, only about 10 percent of individuals with prediabetes are aware of their condition. And, without intervention, 15 to 30 percent may develop Type 2 Diabetes within five years!

Before and after pictures of Chelsie.

Did you know that the Y is committed to helping these individuals reduce the risk and improve their quality of life?

In 2009, the YMCA of Greater Louisville partnered with Y-USA and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to introduce the evidence-based YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) with a focus on lifestyle changes that prevent the risk of developing Type 2 Diabetes.

YMCA DPP participants meet in small group settings, for one hour, with a trained lifestyle coach to learn healthier eating habits, how to increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week and reduce body weight by 7 percent.

National Institutes of Health research has shown that programs, like the YMCA’s DPP, can reduce the number of new cases of Type 2 Diabetes by 58 percent overall and by 71 percent in people over 60.

In addition to reducing health risks, there are societal benefits to eliminating the onset of Type 2 Diabetes. In 2012 alone, $245 billion of our nation’s health care costs were attributed to the management of Type 2 Diabetes; and the average medical cost for a person with diabetes is $13,700 per year.

Lifestyle change can be tough, but through the support of programs like the YMCA’s DPP, change is possible. Chelsie, one of the Y’s DPP participants says it best:

“First, I want to give all glory to God! I am so thankful for this opportunity. My weight loss journey started sitting at my desk at work, looking through the company’s event page and noticing the Diabetes Prevention Program with the YMCA. I was already a YMCA member, so this caught my attention. Once I clicked on the link and read about the program, I knew at that moment, I needed to do this. I had never been in a one-year program before for weight loss. I had tried other weight loss programs, but something about this one seemed so different. Sign-up was so easy, and the Diabetes Prevention Specialists at the YMCA were always available via email or phone. I emailed a specialist right away to inform them that I was interested.

What I love about the program is that it is focused on each individual’s health. This program teaches you not to just lose weight, but to keep it off for a lifetime. I love how my primary care doctor ties into the program as well. She follows all of my blood work and weight loss goals, and she has seen my cholesterol and A1C levels go down.

I would definitely recommend this program to anyone willing to lose weight, receive advice about how to make a lifestyle change and wants to be successful. The best part about this program, is my coach, Rick! He is amazing! He has lost a significant amount of weight and gives us real advice that shows real results. I’m so blessed and honored that fate linked us together. This program so far has saved my life and I’m so grateful for another chance.” –Current Participant, Chelsie Nash

Being diagnosed with prediabetes is a call to action to make positive life changes now!  It’s never too late to seek support in making positive lifestyle adjustments. And, it definitely takes support!

Steve Tarver, CEO of the YMCA of Greater Louisville, is proud that Chelsie has changed her life for the better and said, “With education and support, many others can do the same. Preventing diabetes saves money, but more importantly it saves limbs and lives. (Unfortunately, there is a diabetes related amputation every 7.5 minutes.) Many participants have also reduced use of prescription medications, found they have more energy, and are happier. Consider visiting an informational session.”

The YMCA is hosting a free informational session on Monday, October 30, from 5:30-7:00 pm at its Association Office located at 545 South Second Street.  You do not have to be a Y member to participate. To learn more about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program or to register for the informational session visit www.YMCALouisville.org/Prevent-Diabetes or call 502.572.2608.