Updated 07/12/2011 12:28 AM
Diabetes Prevention Program Fights Off Disease With Diet, Exercise
Overweight patients can help prevent Type 2 diabetes by taking part in a prescription-based diet and exercise intervention program. NY1's Health reporter Kafi Drexel filed the following report.
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More than 700,000 New Yorkers are living with diabetes and one-third of obese adults are on their way to developing it.
But there are ways the disease can be prevented, such as the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, a diet and exercise intervention program created for people at risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.
Kerry Watterson joined the program when his mother had to start using a wheelchair to get around and began losing her eyesight due to diabetes.
When he was a kid though, his family's issues with weight actually became a running joke.
"We would put pillows under our white t-shirts and pretend to get married as the fat people and make funny jokes about different words," he explained. "Do you promise to love honor and cherish cherries? Mmmmm, mmm."
After completing the program, 26 pounds lighter, Watterson's blood sugar level and body fat percentages are down. And he said plans to keep it going.
"I'm waking up earlier," Watterson said. "I'm feeling healthier my AC1 is down, I'm 5 percent less BMI so I'm making some really positive changes."
The program, which partners with the Centers for Disease Control and UnitedHealth Group, can be either free or low-cost with a doctor's referral.
The 16-week YMCA program requires the suggested 150 minutes of moderate activity along with targets of 5 to 10 percent weight loss for overweight participants.
Part of what makes the program so successful is the group setting.
"I think it is the group dynamics that really set this apart," said Janet Locurto, membership director of the Vanderbilt YMCA. "Once they are in this group they bond, they help each other. They give each other suggestions."
Studies show that having a healthier diet and regular exercise can substantially lower the risk and possibly prevent developing full-on diabetes.
"The department of health estimates that 23 percent of the New York population is pre-diabetic and about 9 percent know it," said Judy Ouziel, senior executive director of the YMCA of Greater New York.
For more information, visit nyc.ydiabetes.com.