YMCA Program for Prediabetics

We’ve talked a bit about prediabetes before – the precursor to the dreaded diabetes.  It is estimated that one in three US patients has prediabetes (based either on their blood sugar results or on a combination of health and hereditary factors that give them a higher risk of developing diabetes) – to change a familiar saying given to first year medical students: “look to your right, look to your left, because one of you currently has prediabetes.”  In the next seven years, 10% of those prediabetics will become diabetics.  Now that I have your attention with the bad news, let me share with you some of the hope that the YMCA is providing.

Today I wanted to share with you an exciting program that I read about that can help the prediabetics out there fight back against a possible future diagnosis of diabetes.  It is available through the YMCA and is called the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, or YDPP.  This is one of a select few programs in the country that has been recognized for adhering to the standards set by the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program.  The YMCA was given a three-year grant by the Center for Medicare and Medicaid Innovation to make this program available to about 10,000 Medicare patients in 17 communities.  The program is also covered by 27 other private insurance plans.  For everyone else, the fee for the program is income-based.

But what exactly is the program?  The YDPP is a classroom-based course in which participants will learn from a trained lifestyle coach.  Topics will include nutrition, handling stress, physical activity, and staying motivated.  Although the program goal is to help participants lose about 7% of their body weight, the focus will be on making lifestyle changes that will last a lifetime.  This will include incorporating healthy eating into your life, as well as a goal of gradually increasing physical activity to at least 150 minutes per week.  The program starts out with 16 weekly one-hour sessions, followed by monthly sessions for up to a year to provide support for maintaining progress.

Your next question is probably “does it work?”  Just on a very basic level, it has been found that prediabetics who change to a lifestyle of eating healthier, increasing physical activity to 150 minutes per week, and losing a bit of exercise can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.  Those odds are better than flipping a coin!  But what about this program?  On average, participants in the YMCA’s program have lost 4.9% of their body weight.  Based on research funded by the National Institute of Health, the program has been found to reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58%.  In adults aged 60 or older the reduction was even greater, at 71%!

Why is the program so effective?  Well, for starters, it is much more information than is able to be presented to a prediabetic in a doctor’s office.  Think about it: you see your doctor once a year for maybe 30 minutes to an hour.  Your doctor is not able to cover everything in that short amount of time, and they certainly don’t have the chance to follow-up with your progress.  You are sent home with some information and perhaps an appointment with a dietitian or nurse educator.  The benefit of the YMCA program is that it is ongoing.  You are not sent home to fight prediabetes on your own.  You will be in a group with others just like you who will provide encouragement and support in a friendly atmosphere.  They will be accountability partners for you.  And, your lifestyle coach is trained to talk about all the things that a dietitian and doctor would, plus more!  You will be checking in weekly to start out, and then will have support even after you’ve reached your goals.  As always, it is better to not fight your battle alone.

If you would like to know more about the program, I’ve provided a few links to information.  Currently the YMCA is offering this in 35 states, with more locations being added all the time.  I was excited to see that even the small town in the Midwest that I live in offers the program.  To be eligible to participate, you must be overweight and have a diagnosis of prediabetes.  Remember, one out of every three US adults has prediabetes, but only about 7% of those people know it.  To find out if you are at risk, you can fill out a short survey here.  And please, make an appointment with your doctor to have a simple blood test to find out for sure.  You can fight back against prediabetes, but the first step is knowing that you have it.

For more information on the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program:



And to find your local participating YMCA:


As a disclaimer, I am your “virtual” pharmacist, here to provide you with information and answers to questions.  However, I am not your local pharmacist and could, in no way, be aware of your specific medical needs.  Remember to always check with your medical provider and pharmacist before stopping or starting any new medications.  My posts are based on general pharmacy principles and should not considered as your “first opinion” when it comes to your health.  Please consult with your doctor and pharmacist about anything regarding your health.

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Posted in Exercise & Diet, Prediabetes
One comment on “YMCA Program for Prediabetics
  1. […] community-based organizations can significantly address national health issues.”  Our resident pharmacist, Katherine, wrote about the YMCA Program last week.  If you have been diagnosed with Prediabetes, this is a wonderful program to help you fight your […]

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