A free program proven to help adults who are prediabetic is being offered by the Hilltown Community Health Center. HCHC, in partnership with the Holyoke YMCA is offering its third series of the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program. The 12-month long support program has helped local residents who number among the 89 million adults nation-wide who are prediabetic, meaning they are at risk for developing this life altering disease.
The classes focus on gradual changes that help participants lose 5 to 7 % of their body weight and increase their moderate exercise to 150 minutes a week. Moderate exercise is equal to taking a brisk walk. Meeting in a group setting is an important part of the YMCA DPP experience. The free program includes a three-month membership to your local YMCA to all regular participants after three months. The usual cost for the class is $430. The current program is possible through HCHC partnership with the Holyoke YMCA and support from Healthy Hampshire and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The first meeting will on Wednesday January 17th at 5:30 p.m. at the Worthington Council on Aging office. The COA office is located in the R.H. Conwell Elementary School at 147 Huntington Road in Worthington. The entrance is off the main parking lot and next to the playground toward the rear of the building. Everyone is welcome to the first meeting. Participants do not need to be HCHC patients. For more information or to sign up, you can reach the trained facilitator Janet Dimock at the Worthington Health Center at 413-238-5511 ext. 149 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Dimock is a Community Health Worker in the HCHC Community Programs HealthWise program.
Participants in the Hilltown classes reported that participating in the program has helped them make important changes in their day-to-day activities. “During the first 6 months of the DPP class I have made new friends, I have lost over 15 pounds, I am active 5 to 6 days each week, and I have dropped two sizes in clothing. I am saving money on groceries, feel less stressed, and know that I finally have conquered my previous inability to stick with regular exercise” reports participant Peg Whalen of West Whately.
Participants learn about healthy eating, getting started with physical activity, overcoming stress, staying motivated and other behavior changes, all in a comfortable setting. “Participants share experiences, encourage each other, and help each other solve problems along the way,” said YMCA DPP Lifestyle Coach Janet Dimock. “They support each other to make those small, important changes that have been proven to delay or prevent diabetes,” she said. “It is hard to make changes alone and the class provides a support network of people with common goals.” Dimock is a trained YMCA Lifestyle coach who teaches the series as part of her work as a Community Health Worker at the Hilltown Community Health Center.
“These are all changes I know I can maintain. And the very best part is not having to fear that I will become diabetic. I am in charge of my body and health once again,” Whalen adds
The class curriculum was developed nation-wide by the YMCA and is used in 47 states. It is based on the Federal Center for Disease Control and Education research and the curriculum is officially approved by the CDC. Nationally the YMCA program has helped over 49,000 at-risk adults.
The program consists of 16 weekly sessions of one-hour each and then scheduled support sessions over the following 8 months. The goal of the program is for participants to lose 7 percent of their body weight and improve their moderate exercise to 150 minutes per week. For example, if you weigh 200 pounds this is a loss of 14 pounds. Research by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention shows that these steps can significantly delay or eliminate your risk of developing Type II diabetes.
If you do not know your risk for developing diabetes here are some important guidelines:
You are at risk if you: had gestational diabetes, have an A1C over 5.7, a fasting glucose level over 100, have a BMI equal to or over 25 (or 22 for Asian-Americans), have family members with diabetes, are under age 65 and get very little exercise, are over age 45, and at increased risk if over age 65. If you are 5 ft. 5 inches tall and weight 162 or more your BMI is 25 or more than 22 for Asian-Americans.
“I strongly recommend the DPP class to other people. If you meet the characteristics that put you at risk for becoming pre-diabetic this class is very helpful. It’s only an hour a week for several months and then longer between the remaining classes. You’ll make new friends, learn things about food and eating, and get a different way to look at exercising. The few handouts are easy to read and understand, food tracking is not difficult once you get the hang of it, and the discussions during class are informative and supportive. If a doctor has told you are pre-diabetic, if you are not yet but have diabetes in your family, or you want your remaining years to be healthy and vigorous, this class is an excellent opportunity” Whalen concludes.