Diabetes Prevention Program Helps Prediabetics Reduce Their Risk

NEWS // March 17, 2017

Diabetes Prevention Program Helps Prediabetics Reduce Their Risk

Article submitted by Ches Blevins, Health and Human Services Agency, County of San Diego 

The County of San Diego's Health and Human Services Agency is engaging community organizations to help San Diegans live well through a newly established diabetes prevention program workgroup. The purpose of the workgroup is to support establishing and growing the National Diabetes Prevention Program locally.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based, year-long class led by a trained lifestyle coach. This class helps people with prediabetes learn how to adopt healthy lifestyle changes (eating healthy and staying physically active) with the goal of losing 5-7 percent of their body weight. Participation in the Diabetes Prevention Program classes and achieving this weight loss goal have been shown to help people with prediabetes reduce their risk of advancing to type 2 diabetes by almost half.

Prediabetes is becoming more common in the U.S. It is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. Prediabetes is also called impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), or impaired fasting glucose (IFG), depending on the test used to measure blood glucose levels. Having prediabetes puts one at higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes. People with prediabetes are also at increased risk for developing cardiovascular disease. Nearly 86 million Americans are prediabetic and 46% of people in San Diego County are estimated to be prediabetic. Most don’t even know they have it. Those with prediabetes are likely to develop type 2 diabetes within 10 years, unless they take steps to prevent or delay diabetes.

The American Diabetes Association recommends that testing to detect prediabetes and type 2 diabetes be considered in adults without symptoms, who are overweight or obese and have one or more additional risk factors for diabetes. In those without these risk factors, but who are overweight or obese, testing should begin at age 45. Risk factors for prediabetes and diabetes, in addition to being overweight or obese or being age 45 or older, include the following:

  • Being physically inactive;
  • Having a parent, brother, or sister with diabetes;
  • Having a family background that is African American, Alaska Native, American Indian, Asian American, Hispanic/Latino, or Pacific Islander;
  • Giving birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds or being diagnosed with gestational diabetes first found during pregnancy;
  • Having high blood pressure of 140/90 mmHg or above, or being treated for high blood pressure;
  • Having HDL, or "good," cholesterol below 35 mg/dL, or a triglyceride level above 250 mg/dL;
  • Having polycystic ovary syndrome, also called PCOS;
  • Having impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) on previous testing;
  • Having other conditions associated with insulin resistance, such as severe obesity or a condition called acanthosis nigricans, characterized by a dark, velvety rash around the neck or armpits; and
  • Having a history of cardiovascular disease.

If results of testing are normal, testing should be repeated at least every three years. Doctors may recommend more frequent testing depending on initial results and risk status. The Chronic Disease and Health Equity unit, in partnership with Aging and Independence Services, has been successful in growing the National Diabetes Prevention Program here in San Diego. There are 17 organizations that are either fully recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as a qualified program, or are actively in process of becoming recognized. A number of partnering organizations are expected to begin offering the program to other areas in the County besides San Diego in the near future.

For more information about the National Diabetes Prevention Program offered in San Diego, go to the Prevent Diabetes San Diego website. For information about the San Diego Diabetes Prevention Workgroup, contact Ches Blevins at (619) 692-5506 or Kyra Reinhold at (858) 495-5710.