Diabetes Prevention Program Helps Patients Avoid and Reverse Pre-Diabetes

Wendi Wildman, RN, CDE, describes diabetes in America as an iceberg.  In 2014, the CDC reported 29 million people in the United States had a diabetes diagnosis; another 86 million Americans are in the pre-diabetes range, which lurks below the surface of general awareness. Even scarier, many people with diabetes or pre-diabetes don’t even know they have it.

Wendi is Jefferson’s coordinator for the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS) and instructor for the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). The NDPP is a lifestyle intervention program that grew out of a 20-year research study on prevention of diabetes. The DPPOS research study proved that through diet and exercise, the onset of diabetes can be delayed and in some cases prevented. The NDPP program was rolled out across the United States in community-based organizations like Jefferson.

The year-long program includes 16 weekly sessions and six monthly follow-up sessions with trained lifestyle coaches (nurse Wendi Wildman and registered dietitian Katie Gill) who empower participants to take charge of their health. Education and accountability are the backbone.

“Before I met Wendi, I was running with scissors the way I was eating,” said Rosemary Quinn, a program participant. “I thought I was eating healthy but I wasn’t.”

Rosemary found out about the program through a friend who works at Jefferson. On her daily bike ride home from work in September 2015, they ran into one another and started chatting. Rosemary had recently received a lab report from her doctor and was lamenting about the note “high” next to her A1C level, the common test for diabetes. Her friend invited her tag along to the Diabetes Prevention Program class, which she attended the next day.

“I went into this class thinking I was going to try to avoid pre-diabetes,” Rosemary said. “Wendi looked at my labs and informed me I was already in the pre-diabetes range.”

Since then, Rosemary has been a contentious student, attending classes and logging her diet and exercise as required.

“Taking these classes is the best thing I have ever done,” she said. “I would recommend this program to anyone with a pulse. I’ve been telling everyone about it.”

The program recommends a weight loss goal of 5 to 7 percent. For Rosemary that would be about 10 pounds, to lower her risk of diabetes. Her personal goal was to lower her

Rosemary Quinn on her bike

Rosemary Quinn rides her bike to and from work each day as a part of a healthy lifestyle which can prevent diabetes.

A1C. So far, she’s lost 16 pounds and has lowered her A1C to 5.7. “I feel amazing,” she said.

“Get active,’ ‘stay fit,’ and ‘eat more veggies,’ are too general,” Rosemary said. “Through this program, I was taught specifics, rather than general statements about how to avoid Type 2 Diabetes.”

Some of Rosemary’s favorite tips from the program:

  • Read your food labels and understand the components on the label. Really pay attention to the portion sizes. Many seemingly “healthy” foods contain added sugar; four grams equals an entire teaspoon!
  • If you have a desk job like Rosemary, get up and walk 2-5 minutes per hour to get your cells moving.
  • Break up exercise into 10 minute manageable chunks, aiming for at least 150 minutes per week and document it to hold yourself accountable.
  • Try to eat protein and carbs together, rather than just carbs. Limit the carbs.
  • Gear up for holidays and parties by having a plan to stick with healthy eating. Make the event more about seeing the people you love than the food and drink.
  • Drink water in between alcoholic drinks. Keep your drink in your dominant hand, to prevent snacking.
  • When eating out, order first and stick with your healthy choice. You will be less likely swayed by others and their choices.
  • No one (we mean it – no one) needs a whole dessert. Suggest one dessert and ask for four forks.

For more information on the program call Wendi Wildman at 215-955-0474 or Katie Gill at 215-955-0453.

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