Faculty and staff lose weight, improve health with Diabetes Prevention Program

More than 240 faculty, staff and their dependents have joined the Diabetes Prevention Program to lose weight, increase physical activity and improve their health since July 2015, when the program first became available at no cost for U-M Premier Care members.

"I had known for a couple of years that I needed to make some changes to get my blood sugar and cholesterol down, but I needed help building new habits and creating momentum. The Diabetes Prevention Program helped me close those gaps," says Kent Seckinger, assistant director in the Benefits Office, who joined the program in January.

"I've lost 50 pounds and my blood sugar and cholesterol are both normal now. The program is practical, actionable and not difficult. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who is motivated to make changes for their health."

The Diabetes Prevention Program was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to help people with higher-than-normal blood sugar prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Why prevention?

"Diabetes is one of the most prevalent and costly chronic conditions affecting our faculty, staff and their families," says Marsha Manning, manager of medical benefits. According to the CDC, as many as one in three American adults are living with prediabetes, but most of them don't know it. Many will progress to diabetes within five years.

"The good news is that research shows diabetes can often be prevented," Manning says. "Our hope is that by covering the Diabetes Prevention Program we can make a real difference in the health and quality of life of our members who are at risk for diabetes."

Diabetes Prevention Program participants join a group that meets weekly with a trained coach for 16 weeks, followed by eight monthly check-in sessions. Group sessions focus on sustainable strategies to increase activity, lose a modest amount of weight, eat well and manage stress.

Premier Care covers the program at several providers throughout southeast Michigan, including the National Kidney Foundation of Michigan, the U-M Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes Outpatient Diabetes Education Program, and the Ann Arbor YMCA.

Members also can enroll in a popular online version offered through Omada Health. Seckinger, who doesn't live in the Ann Arbor area, chose Omada for convenience.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is intended for people with a diagnosis of prediabetes, or blood sugar that is higher than normal but not yet as high as in diabetes. Prediabetes is commonly diagnosed through an A1C blood test to assess average blood sugar level.

Premier Care members with a prediabetes diagnosis or risk factors on file will receive a letter from Blue Care Network with information about A1C testing and the program. Members who are newly diagnosed with prediabetes based on an elevated A1C level may also contact any of the program providers to enroll.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is currently offered as a covered benefit for Premier Care members through a collaboration between the Benefits Office and MHealthy. The program may be extended to other U-M health plans in the future.

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