If you’re one of the 1 in 3 American adults living with prediabetes, there’s good news. While prediabetes puts you at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes within five years, you can cut your risk of developing diabetes in half with modest lifestyle changes. If you’re an eligible member with U-M Premier Care, the Diabetes Prevention Program can help you make them.
(Not sure if you’re at risk for prediabetes? Take this one minute quiz.)
Joyce Patterson, a nutrition specialist at Michigan Medicine’s Division of Metabolism, Endocrinology & Diabetes (MEND), has been a Diabetes Prevention Program coach for the past two years. Here’s what she has to say about the program.
- The main focus is on how and why we make choices.
- Patterson says that while participants learn a lot about the nuts and bolts about how food and physical activity affect blood sugar, the bulk of the program is about how and why we make choices in our daily lives. “We learn not just about preventing diabetes, but we learn a lot about ourselves, and that’s what really clicks for people,” she says.
- Participants support and learn from one another.
- “In every class I have led, participants have developed a bond early and are grateful to learn from each other,” Patterson says. Participants share successes and failures together and move toward goals as a group. Even after the program ends, “graduates” can drop in for a support group once a month (including people who didn’t join the program through MEND).
- Within a couple of months, you’ll start to see real results.
- Patterson says her favorite moment occurs three to four months into each class, when participants start going back to their health care providers. By that point they’ve begun to make changes and lose weight, and their motivation is reinforced when they find their A1C values and cholesterol levels beginning to come down. She cites one doctor who told a recent participant, “You cured yourself of high blood pressure!”
- You’ll get new information you can actually use.
- “One great thing about this program is that you get reliable information about how food affects your health that you might not otherwise get until you were diagnosed with diabetes,” Patterson says. “A lot of people come in with a family history of diabetes. They already know the ‘what’ – this program provides the ‘why’.”
- It’s a commitment, but one that you’d never regret.
- The program lasts for one year, with weekly meetings for six months and monthly meetings after that. But the transformation participants experience is worth it. “I know it’s sometimes hard to decide to commit to the program – but most people find that it’s worth it.”
Eligible U-M Premier Care members can join the Diabetes Prevention Program through MEND, the Ann Arbor YMCA, the Diabetes Prevention Center or an online program called Omada. To find out more, visit the Diabetes Prevention Program website.