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Preventing diabetes

MSU offers free program for at-risk pre-diabetics

Monitoring diet and implementing a certain amount of exercise in one's daily routine is important to preventing diabetes. Michigan State University Extension will be offering a free, year-long course titled "National Prevention Diabetes Program On-Line" that launches Monday, July 6 to help individual's lose 5-7% of their body weight and lower their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. (Photo courtesy of flickr)

MARQUETTE — A year-long course aims to help individuals on the wrong track toward developing diabetes reverse their life path by promoting a healthy diet and physical exercise.

Michigan State University Extension will be offering “National Diabetes Prevention Program” online via Zoom video conferencing beginning with a mandatory orientation meeting from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, July 6. The series will kick off its first session from noon to 1 p.m. Monday, July 13.

MSU has been teaching this program over several years and this is the first time that the course is being offered online and at no-cost, MSU Health Extension Educator Tracie Abram said, adding, this is a great opportunity for people to “jump on board now.” Abram said she’s looking forward to helping people realize the little changes they can make to their lives that will set them on the right track.

“The whole goal is to become more physically active and to start monitoring and really understanding what foods are better for you. So it’s a slow, weight-loss empowerment program … (but) it’s not just losing weight, it’s really becoming a life change,” Abram said. “(It’s) really looking at what foods you’re eating and getting that support you need and information that you need to help you do that life change so it prevents you from getting diabetes because the majority of people don’t realize they’re pre-diabetic.”

In order to be eligible for the course, participants must be at least 18 years old, overweight, not pregnant, have no previous diagnosis of type 1 or type 2 diabetes and have a blood test result in the pre-diabetes range within the past year or have a previous clinical diagnosis of gestational diabetes.

Pre-diabetes is when a person’s blood sugar level is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes, according to MSU’s website. Risk factors for pre-diabetes are if a person is 45 years of age or older, overweight, has a family history of type 2 diabetes, physically active fewer than three times per week and has been diagnosed with gestational diabetes during pregnancy or gave birth to a baby weighing more than 9 pounds, the MSU website states.

The course will be taught by Abram and two other MSU Extension health educators who are all trained to be lifestyle coaches. The program needs at least eight participants but no more than 15 that are willing to attend the 22 sessions virtually throughout the year, she said.

“If you meet those requirements, … I would say you have nothing to lose. It’s really just 22 hours of your life over a year’s time. It’s 22 sessions; why not see if it’ll help? Why not see if it’ll do some good?” Abram remarked. “It’s not a lot of pressure, it’s more mental (and) life-changing little habits that you might have. A lot of times people are overweight too because they’re not recognizing what they’re eating or when they’re eating. So we teach them some mindfulness to make sure (they’re) really keeping track and thinking about all the things you are putting in your mouth and what brought you there.”

Each session is one-hour long, which includes a half-hour of instruction and another half-hour conducting measurements, discussing exercise and listing ways to improve for the next session, Abram said. Being that the course is a year long, people will be able to build relationships and be a support system for each other, she added.

“It’s not about shaming, it’s about where is my goal and keeping myself in check. And sometimes, tangible things like that people never do. We’re just not disciplined people but if you give them a tool or two, (it) can help them gauge so to speak. It’s all positive,” she said.

Based on research by the National Institutes of Health and supported by the Centers for Disease Control & Prevention, the program is proven to help individual’s lose weight and prevent diabetes, Abram noted.

“What I’m looking forward to is just like having that lightbulb go on and seeing somebody realize that it’s easier than they think and that they can just do one or two different things to make them get on a different road so they don’t get diabetes,” she said, adding, “Just empowering people is energizing to me.”

Registration for the program is open and closes at 11:59 p.m. July 3. To register, contact Abram at 906-235-2985 or abram@msu.edu or visit events.anr.msu.edu/UPNDPP7620/.

Jackie Jahfetson can be reached at 906-228-2500, ext. 248. Her email address is jjahfetson@miningjournal.net.

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