Franklin Countys First News

On the National Diabetes Prevention Program

Dora Anne Mills

By Dora Anne Mills

As Diabetes Awareness Month has drawn to a close in November, there is bad news and good news.

Bad news: diabetes has grown to be one of the leading causes of disability and death in the United States, and diabetes rates have tripled in Maine since 1990, from 3.6 percent of adults to 11 percent.

Good news: People can take proactive steps to keep the most common form of the disease at bay, and MaineHealth is offering a free program that shows how you can prevent diabetes type 2.

MaineHealth is launching the National Diabetes Prevention Program across our service area serving 1.1 million people in Maine and Carroll County, N.H. From Sanford to Stockton Springs, from North Conway to New Vineyard, and from Portland to Paris, this program is being offered near you.

The MaineHealth Diabetes Prevention Program brings participants together in small groups of 5 to 15, led by a trained instructor-coach. Meetings are held weekly for the first four months, then once or twice per month for the next eight months. We hope to launch an online version in the coming year as well.

With coaching and peer support, participants learn to eat healthier, increase their physical activity and maintain a food and activity diary with the goal of losing 10 to 20 pounds over the 12 months. By following this course, people are shown be less likely to develop diabetes, avoiding the complications of this serious disease. These include increased risk of cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, damage to vision and other serious conditions.

As an added bonus, program participants feel better and often inspire their families to do the same.

With pre-diabetes found in over one-third of adults in Maine, and in about half of Mainers over 64, this program is critical if we are to stem the tide of people being diagnosed with diabetes. Without interventions such as the Diabetes Prevention Program, about half of those with pre-diabetes will develop diabetes within five years. By participating in the program, people can dramatically cut their chances of developing diabetes by 50 percent to 75 percent.

Who should participate in the MaineHealth Diabetes Prevention Program? Find out your risk for diabetes by taking this simple quiz: https://mainehealth2.formstack.com/forms/diabetes_risk_test.

Those at risk include people who are overweight or obese, have family members with type 2 diabetes, have had gestational (pregnancy-related) diabetes, struggle with physical inactivity, have high blood pressure, or are over 45 years of age. If you’re at risk for diabetes or just want to get healthier, the MaineHealth Diabetes Prevention Program may be for you.

Check out the availability of classes, including informational classes near you at: https://mhprevention.coursestorm.com/. Not sure or have questions? Check our website at https://mainehealth.org/services/endocrinology-diabetes/diabetes-prevention-program.

Or contact us by email at: prevention@mainehealth.org or call us at 207-661-7294.

Indeed, there is good news this month. The MaineHealth Diabetes Prevention Program is launching, and is part of our commitment of working together so our communities are the healthiest in America.

Dora Anne Mills, MD, MPH, is the chief health improvement officer at Portland-based MaineHealth, Northern New England’s largest integrated health care system.

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