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YMCA aims to prevent diabetes

By Henry Luzzatto

Correspondent

One-third of American adults are at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. But the Suffolk Family YMCA is offering a program to help at-risk adults reduce the chance of the disease.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is a yearlong plan that helps pre-diabetic adults reduce their chance of developing diabetes. Small groups meet at the YMCA to share ways to become healthier and more active.

“The program has been tremendously successful,” said Sarah Crouch, the health and wellness director at the Suffolk Family YMCA.

The program’s first class finished the course in May. Crouch said the participants had succeeded in becoming healthier over the past 12 months.

“All of the participants in the program are no longer pre-diabetic,” Crouch said.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is a nationwide curriculum developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The program is offered to help adults who have warning signs of diabetes become healthier.

“The goal is for them to reduce their body weight by seven percent and increase their physical activity to 30 minutes a day, five times per week,” said Wendy Pierce, the vice president of healthy living at the YMCA of South Hampton Roads.

The program meetings are led by a lifestyle coach, but Crouch said the programs are truly group-based.

“People share their experiences, their barriers and the solutions they’ve had,” Crouch said.

Crouch said the program has been a success, with a retention rate of more than 90 percent from the beginning of the program to the end. She said the success continues even after the sessions end.

“Even after the program is done, many will still come to the Y,” she said. “Participants develop support systems and friendships around the group.”

The program normally costs $379 for members and $429 for non-members, but a grant from the Obici Healthcare Foundation makes the program affordable for anybody.

“The grant has prevented there from being financial barriers to getting help,” Pierce said.

Rick Spencer, the program resource officer at the Obici Healthcare Foundation, said the foundation decided to award the grant to the YMCA because the two groups had similar goals in preventing diabetes.

“Western Tidewater has the highest death rate from diabetes in the state,” Spencer said. Because of this, he said, it became a goal to prevent and treat Type 2 diabetes.

The grant has been funding the Diabetes Prevention Program since the program’s inception in 2015.

“We recognized that there are barriers such as cost and transportation that can make it hard for some people,” Spencer said. “We wanted to remove financial barriers for those who can’t afford it.”

Crouch said there is another round of classes beginning this Saturday with a new crew of participants. The YMCA plans on starting a new round of classes every four to six weeks, she added.

She said the scheduling is flexible and can be matched with any schedule.

“If you’re at risk, there’s really no reason not to come,” she said.