The most recent numbers indicate that one in every three adults has prediabetes, but only 10 percent know they have it! Those who do know can enroll in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s Diabetes Prevention Program, or DPP. It’s a year-long lifestyle change program designed to help individuals with prediabetes reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. It also is an immense opportunity for food and nutrition professionals to serve this population.
The DPP was based off extensive, NIH-led research which showed that a structured lifestyle change program for individuals with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. And that statistic increased to 71 percent for individuals over 60 years old!
How does the DPP do it? In the program, participants interact in a group setting to work toward 150 minutes of physical activity each week and achieving a modest 5 to 7-percent weight loss. The material is structured to educate and encourage participants to eat healthier, reduce stress, problem solve, overcome obstacles and maintain their motivation. After all, a year is big commitment for most, but also is ideal to stimulate long-term success.
My role as their lifestyle coach (not their dietitian) is to lead each lesson, facilitate conversation among group members and tailor materials to best fit the group’s needs. Before becoming a lifestyle coach, I had only been immersed in the setting of one-on-one nutrition counseling, so working on behavior change in a small group setting was a new and welcomed change in my career. I found that DPP group members looked to each other for insight and inspiration rather than to me as an expert for the “ultimate answer” to help them on their journey. I find it magical to watch things unfold as participants self-recognize their personal barriers — and successes — and often, with the help of their classmates, develop a S.M.A.R.T. goal that allows them to continue taking small steps in the right direction. They become accountable to each other, and not just me as their coach.
The DPP can be delivered in-person, such as at community organizations, health care clinics, health departments, state agencies, wellness centers, workplaces and universities, or even virtually. I recently completed CDR’s Level 2 Certificate of Training Program in Adult Weight Management, where Academy president Lucille Beseler presented on reimbursement and shared that Medicare will begin covering the DPP starting January 1, 2018! I would encourage dietitians with a passion for teaching and presenting to consider this growing area of opportunity. I know that I’ve found a lot of professional fulfillment through small group facilitation and am proud to add this essential skill to my RD toolbox.