According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are 30.3 million people with diabetes in the United States. That’s 9.4% of the population, which means nearly one out of every ten people has diabetes. Of these people, more than 23 million are diagnosed, while 7.2 million, nearly 24% of them, are undiagnosed.

When considering prediabetes, a condition indicated by a higher-than-normal blood glucose reading that does not meet the level to be diagnostic for diabetes, the numbers are even more alarming. In 2017, the CDC reported that 84.1 million adults (nearly 34% of the population) have prediabetes. Over 23 million of those with prediabetes are adults aged 65 years or older, which is the age group with highest rate.

Local, county-specific statistics from 2013 (the most recent set of data published on the CDC website) show that Lackawanna, Wayne, Susquehanna, Pike, and Luzerne counties all rank highly when it comes to the number of people diagnosed with diabetes per capita. It stands to reason, then, that the number of people who have undiagnosed diabetes or who are prediabetic is similarly high.

In light of these statistics and as part of its ongoing commitment to promoting healthy living in the community, the Greater Carbondale YMCA will be kicking off a new CDC approved Diabetes Prevention Program this spring. “Many people don’t realize the effects of uncontrolled diabetes, including loss of limbs due to decreased circulation, loss of vision, and kidney failure. Diabetes has actual, life threatening effects,” said Lorri William, RN.

Ms. Williams, who is the YMCA’s cardiac rehab nurse, continued, “People don’t realize that when blood sugar fluctuates, it has negative effects on the body. We’re trying to get to people who have prediabetes and prevent them from becoming diabetic through exercise, education, and eating right. Just simple steps that will prevent them from becoming diabetic.”

The Diabetes Prevention Program will be conducted by Ms. Williams and Kyreek Johnson, BS, CPT. The format for the program will be a small group of registered participants who will meet for a year to encourage and support one another as they pursue the same goal of improved health and lowered risk for developing diabetes.

The initial six-month session will consist of one hour-long session every week. The second six-month phase will consist of a minimum of six one hour-long, group-based sessions that will occur once a month for the rest of the year. The target group size for the program is eight people.

The goal of the program is for people to reduce their body weight and increase their physical activity. “This will take place in the type of group setting that is really comfortable. We want people to discover their own problems so they can improve. We’ll use food journals to help them identify ways to make themselves feel better and have group discussions to discover ways to incorporate exercise and healthy habits to have a better quality of life,” explained Ms. Williams.

In order to qualify for the program, individuals must be 18 years old or older, must be overweight, and must be diagnosed with prediabetes via one of three blood tests or have a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes. Alternatively, individuals who have a qualifying risk score based on their answers to a series of questions can qualify. There will be a fee to participate in the program, but the YMCA is currently seeking grant money to help alleviate costs.

The Diabetes Prevention Program is expected to start in May. For more information, including details about how to qualify and sign up, please leave a message for Lorrie Williams at (570) 282-2210 ext. 110 or stop in at the YMCA’s information desk.