Thrive by IU Health

July 31, 2020

Virtual education, coaching leads to diabetes prevention

Virtual education, coaching leads to diabetes prevention

Have you been told you have prediabetes signs and symptoms? IU Health has a plan in place that can help lower risks of Type II diabetes.

By IU Health Senior Journalist T.J. Banes, tfender1@iuhealth.org

Did you know that a weight loss of just 10 to fourteen pounds could make the world of difference in the life of someone facing prediabetes?

It’s not always easy to make that commitment. Since the onset of COVID-19, support groups are finding new ways to connect. Starting Aug. 4, IU Health will offer a virtual Diabetes Program.

“If we can help somebody who is in the boarder line category become more active and lose five to 10 percent of their body weight then we see really good improvements in overall diabetes risk,” said Britney Merchant, IU Health Certified Diabetes Care and Education Specialist. Recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the IU Health program will meet every Tuesday for the first six months and continue meeting twice a month for the next six months.

According to the CDC, prediabetes - higher than normal blood sugar levels - is a serious health condition that can result in Type II diabetes. Approximately one in three Americans have prediabetes, and more than 84 percent don’t know they have it. In addition to Type II diabetes, the condition can increase the risk of heart disease and stroke.

Who is at risk of prediabetes?

  • People over the age of 45
  • People with a family history of Type II diabetes
  • Those who are physically active fewer than three times a week.
  • African-Americans, Hispanic/Latino Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders, and some Asian Americans are at a greater risk.
  • Being overweight can increase risks of prediabetes

“We know that if a person who is 200 pounds can lose 10 to fifteen pounds, they can significantly lower their risk of getting diabetes,” said Merchant who is also a registered dietitian. The CDC reports staying at a healthy weight lowers the risk factors by 70 to 90 percent.

The free virtual program is limited to 12 people and Merchant has already begun taking information for those interested in future programs. Anyone interested in learning more may call Merchant at 317-962-3451.

Those who may consider the program include:

  • People 18 and over
  • Those with a BMI of 25 or above
  • Anyone who had an elevated blood sugar in the past year

Sessions include topics on healthy eating, ways to increase physical activity, managing stress, and finding support from people with similar goals.

“One thing I discovered through previous in-person programs is that people are hugging and sad to leave when it’s over,” said Merchant. “They find great accountability and friendships through each other. Even as we move to a virtual format I hope that they can find the support they need to work through and cope with stress because stress and lack of sleep are a couple of the less known factors that play into diabetes risk.”

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