YMCA, AMA, CDC Team Up to Fight Diabetes

Twenty five million Americans live with diabetes. According to the most recent statistics available from the Pennsylvania Department of Health, between 899,000 and 999,000 adults over the age of eighteen are estimated to have been diagnosed with diabetes in Pennsylvania. Diabetes and its complications also are the seventh leading cause of death in Pennsylvania.

The American Medical Association (AMA), YMCA, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) are joining forces nationwide to increase both screening for prediabetes and refer to evidence-based programs that will help prevent the onset of diabetes.

On Aug. 4, 2014, AMA Board Trustee Stephen Permut, MD, spoke at a YMCA advocacy kick-off event in Haverford that brought together local leaders and national medical experts to help educate the community about the impact of diabetes in the Philadelphia area and how YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is helping to reduce the burden of this disease.

“One out of every three American adults has prediabetes and only about 11 percent are even aware that they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Permut. “To address this alarming fact, the AMA is committed to raising awareness about prediabetes and ensuring more at-risk patients are referred to proven diabetes prevention programs to help them prevent or delay diabetes.”

Dr. Permut said that the organizations are working closely with physician practices to develop models to screen and refer patients with prediabetes to the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program and create feedback so that patients’ experiences at the YMCA can be integrated into their physician’s care plan.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, part of the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program, helps adults at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes reduce their risk by taking the necessary steps to improve their overall health and well-being. It is nationally supported by the Diabetes Prevention and Control Alliance. Dr. Permut noted that, through a federal innovation grant, pilot sites for the program are running in the states of Indiana, Delaware, Minnesota, and Florida.

The program provides a trained lifestyle coach to introduce topics in a supportive, small group environment and encourage participants as they explore how healthy eating, physical activity and behavior changes can benefit their health.

The 12-month group-based program consists of 16 one-hour, weekly sessions, followed by monthly sessions led by a trained lifestyle coach who facilitates a small group of people with similar goals.

The groups discuss topics such as healthy eating, increasing physical activity, reducing stress, problem solving, and much more.

The goals of the program are for each participant to:

  • Lose 7 percent of body weight
  • Gradually increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week

Diabetes treatment costs Americans an estimated $245 billion each year.

“Type 2 diabetes is also one of the key drivers of soaring health care costs, and the AMA is partnering with YMCA branches in several states to improve health outcomes for local residents through better prevention, thereby contributing to reduced health care costs for this disease,” said Dr. Permut.

Currently, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is offered in nearly 950 locations in 41 states.

Dr. Permut, a PAMED member, is also chair-elect of the AMA Board of Trustees and chair of the Department of Family and Community Medicine at Temple.