YMCA Southcoast recognized by CDC for diabetes prevention program

Sep 15, 2018

After four years of hard work, YMCA Southcoast has been recognized by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for its diabetes prevention program spearheaded by coordinator Dara Midwood.

There are as many as 253 similar YMCA programs being offered all across the United States, but only nine of these programs are formally recognized by the CDC.

“It’s not easy to get certified,” said Midwood. “But we’re exactly where we need to be.”

According to Diabetes Prevention Recognition Program Director Ann Albright, the designation is reserved for programs that have effectively delivered a quality and evidence-based program with consistently reported results.

This means that YMCA Southcoast has been able to actively uphold its participation rates in conjunction with its results.

Part of a formal study with the CDC, the YMCA diabetes prevention program is a one-year commitment for adults ages 18 and older who have been diagnosed as prediabetic.

According to Midwood, these are the people most at risk for developing type 2 diabetes due to their elevated blood glucose levels.

“One out of three people in the U.S. suffer from prediabetes,” Midwood said. “And research tells us that those odds are only going to get worse.”

Type 2 diabetes is a long-term metabolic disorder characterized by high blood sugar and insulin resistance which typically occurs as a result of obesity.  Diabetes affects nearly 26 million people in the United States and another 79 million are diagnosed as prediabetic.

“Awareness is a huge factor in fighting this disease,” Midwood said.

Participants in the YMCA Southcoast program meet once a week for six months with a certified LifeStyle Coach at any of the branch’s six locations. These include Wareham, Dartmouth, Fall River, Mattapoisett, Swansea and New Bedford.

As the program is protected by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), all meetings are private and member information is protected.

The LifeStyle Coach helps participants to learn about portion control as well as other healthy eating and exercise habits. A journal is used to keep track of individual milestones and encourage mindfulness.

“When you start writing down your habits, you become much more aware of what exactly it is you’re doing,” Midwood said.

Overall, participants in the program have two goals for reducing their risk of type 2 diabetes.

The first is to lose 7 percent of their body weight, which Midwood said is typically accomplished within the first 16 weeks of the program.

The second is to exercise for 150 minutes a week, which can be as simple as a brisk walk around the neighborhood.

“What really matters is that people are up and moving,” Midwood said. “It’s all about making small lifestyle changes that can keep weight off for good.”

According to Midwood, participants who meet these goals see their risk for developing type 2 diabetes drop by 58 percent.

“By the last six months of the program, they have all the tools they need,” Midwood said. “We cut meetings back to once a month because by then people generally know they have what it takes to continue being successful.”

Midwood attributes a large chunk of the program’s success to its group atmosphere which she said helps people to feel that they’re not alone.

“Everyone is in the same boat,” she said. “People help each other out and we have a ton of laughs along the way. Comradery makes things a lot less scary.”

“The people we met at the Y were so friendly,” said Deb Rodriguez, a diabetes prevention program graduate from Dartmouth. “And Dara is simply amazing.”

Rodriguez joined the program at the Dartmouth YMCA with her husband Bob who had been diagnosed with prediabetes.

“We both needed to lose weight,” she said. “But trying to do it by ourselves was really hard.”

Rodriguez said the program helped her to lose 30 pounds while her husband lost 20.

“The core training offered at the Y was a huge part our journey,” Rodriguez said. “I had lost weight before, but I never felt that I looked as good as I do now.”

The total cost for the program is $429 which includes a free membership to all six YMCA Southcoast locations.

“We want to continue helping as many people as we can,” Midwood said.

For more information on the program, call Dara Midwood at 508-996-9622 ext. 141 or visit ymca.net/diabetes-prevention.