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Invest in your Health Now to Prevent a Future with Diabetes

What if you were asked this question: How have you taken a bold step toward a healthier you?

Three areas of particular importance when it comes to being in good health are what you eat, how much you move (activity) and how life makes you feel (mental health). The Diabetes Prevention Program at Meritus Health can offer you direction, support and resources in all three of these areas. Investing in this single program could be the bold move for you to make this year.

In the U.S., 96 million adults have prediabetes, and 80% of those who have it don’t even know it. Type 2 diabetes, or T2 as it is referred to in the program, often has no symptoms, so someone who has prediabetes — when the blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered T2, which is in the range of 100-125 Mg/dL — will most often not know of the unhealthy path they are going down.

The good news is that if you discover high blood sugar early, many who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay the disease, and in some cases return their blood glucose to normal levels. This is where the DPP comes in.

Pre-Diabetes Infographic

The program assists participants with identifying how to choose the best foods for meals, how to increase movement daily and how to recognize and better control stress. These small lifestyle changes can have a big, bold effect in preventing the onset of T2. Since change can be challenging for most of us, support and encouragement from others who are on the same path, under the guidance of a trained lifestyle coach, can really help.

The DPP is an evidence-based series of classes that has proven to work. Participants who invested their time and actively took part in the program have reported a 58% decreased risk of being diagnosed with T2. Those age 60 and older report a 71% decreased risk.

Participants in the program work toward the goals of losing just 5% to 7% of their body weight and accomplishing 150 minutes of moderate activity each week.

The program focuses on what we can change to help decrease our chances of being diagnosed with T2. There are risk factors that we have no control over, including family history, ethnicity (Pacific Islander, African American) and age (older than 45). Working on lifestyle changes that lower blood pressure, decrease risk of gestational diabetes when pregnant and help you reach a healthy weight can still make a tremendous difference in a person’s chances of not getting diabetes.

Diabetes Alert Day — the one-day 'wake-up call' that helps us focus on the seriousness of diabetes and the importance of understanding our risk — is Tuesday, March 22. Everyone is encouraged to take the risk assessment test that day, either in person at Robinwood Professional Center’s atrium from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Valley Mall’s interior Belk entrance from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., or on this website under the Diabetes Prevention Program section. Your results might prompt you to Go For Bold and take the step to sign up for the free DPP. We would love for you to join us!

Laurie Sandberg, our diabetes care specialist, contributed to this column that was published in The Herald-Mail and at HeraldMailMedia.com in March 2022.