Three Steps to Help Local Health Departments Prevent New Cases of Diabetes

By Camillia Easley, MPH, Program Analyst, Healthy Communities/Chronic Disease, NACCHO, and Brandie Adams-Piphus, MPH, Senior Program Analyst, NACCHO

March 24 is Diabetes Alert Day, an opportunity for local health departments (LHDs) to raise awareness about diabetes prevention. Nearly 29 million children and adults in the United States have diabetes and nearly 86 million American adults have prediabetes. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps those at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating healthier, increasing physical activity, and losing a modest amount of weight in order to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a one-year, community-based lifestyle improvement program for adults with pre-diabetes. The program meets weekly for 16 weeks, followed by eight monthly sessions. Research by the National Institutes of Health has shown that programs like the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program can reduce the number of cases of type 2 diabetes among Medicare age individuals by 71% (compared to 58% among the general population). As a partner of the YMCA’s initiative to prevent diabetes, NACCHO invites LHDs to promote Diabetes Alert Day and encourage community members to enroll in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

What Local Health Departments can Do
Here are three steps that LHDs can take to help prevent the burden of diabetes in their communities.

  1. Help people find out if they’re at risk for type 2 diabetes. Download and administer the American Diabetes Association’s Type 2 Diabetes Risk Test.
  1. Spread the word about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is available to all adults who qualify for the program, regardless of their insurance status, but Medicare Part A & B recipients may be eligible to participate at no cost. Learn more about the program and how to refer participants.
  1. Support Diabetes Alert Day. Take the important steps to stop an epidemic. Administer the one-minute Diabetes Risk Test and help communities find out if they are at risk for type 2 diabetes. Share the test to help others who also may be at risk. LHDs can also organize a Step Out: Walk to Stop Diabetes® event in their communities.

Unique Collaborations between Local Health Departments and the YMCA
NACCHO’s Chronic Disease team developed a webcast series on unique collaborations between LHDs and the YMCA to support its prediabetes and diabetes prevention and control efforts. The first webcast presents background information on the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, the second webcast features the Florida Department of Health in Duval County, and the third webcast provides a spotlight on the collaboration between the Cincinnati Health Department and the YMCA of Greater Cincinnati. Learn more about the webcast at the following links:

For more information about how LHDs can prevent diabetes in their communities, visit NACCHO’s Diabetes Prevention webpage.

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