Approximately 30 million Americans are diagnosed with pre-diabetes, which means their blood glucose level is on the verge of full-blown disease. Now a first-of-its-kind program is being piloted through the Louisville YMCA in Kentucky, helping these individuals turn their lives around.
First, to qualify, you must be diagnosed with pre-diabetes, with a fasting glucose level between 100 and 125. One in three people in Kentucky are there. And now doctors are sending them to YMCA meeting rooms to give diabetes a gut punch.
"I had done many things to lose weight," Debbie Wente said. She was one of the first program participants to sign on realizing, "I had tried many many times, different program and some I was more successful than others. But I knew I couldn't do it on my own."
In this program with an 85 percent success rate, no one is alone. Participants discuss their lives and gain support from one another in weekly meetings for six weeks.
The program was designed by doctors at IU School of Medicine. They turned to Louisville two years ago.
"This was to see if they could take lay people, YMCA professionals, to lead the classes and still get the same results" said Mike Bramer, Director of the YMCA Healthy Actions.
It teaches nutrition, the importance of tracking everything you eat. There's accountability with a weekly weigh-in at each meeting. And there's exercise.
The recommendation is 30 minutes a day, six days a week. More than 260 people have completed the program averaging over a 4 percent weight loss. Research shows that could reduce the risk of diabetes by more than half.
After 10 months of sticking with the program, Debbie dropped 152 pounds...and has been able to maintain it.
"I'm surprised it worked, and I'm surprised I've been successful in maintaining it," she said. "But I was assured if I did those elements and really changed my lifestyle that it would work, and it has."
The CDC is providing grant money for the program, which is now in 20 cities across the country because of the early success in Louisville.
The cost is $50 for members of the YMCA and $100 for non-members. Included in that cost is some use of the YMCA gym facilities.
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