A free program proven to help adults who are prediabetic is being offered by the Hilltown Community Health Center. HCHC is offering a National Diabetes Prevention Program (Prevent T2 Lifestyle Change 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 Prevent T2. The current program is possible through HCHC support from Healthy Hampshire and the Massachusetts Department of Public Health.
The first meeting will be on Tuesday March 20th at 4:30 p.m. at the Hilltown Community Center, located at 9 Russell Road in Huntington. Anyone interested in finding out more about the program is welcome at this first meeting. Participants do not need to be HCHC patients. For more information or to sign up, you can reach the trained and certified facilitator Ellie Brasil at the Huntington Community Center at 413-667-2203 ext. 322 or at firstname.lastname@example.org. Ellie is a Community Health Worker in the Health Center’s patient self-management 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 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 Chesterfield. “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.
Participants learn about healthy eating, getting started with physical activity, overcoming stress, staying motivated and other behavior changes, all in a comfortable and confidential setting. “Participants share experiences, encourage each other, and help each other solve problems along the way,” said Diabetes Prevention Program Lifestyle Coach and Health Center Community Health Worker 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.”
The class curriculum was developed nation-wide by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Division of Diabetes Translation. The program consists of meetings once a week for four months, every other week for two months then once a month for six months. The goal of the program is for participants to lose 5 – 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 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.