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Program Helps Participants Stave Off Diabetes

By Tricia Schug

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Gregg Harrison of Toledo had been prediabetic for years and knew that if his blood sugar levels continued to rise, he would likely develop diabetes, a disease with a myriad of consequences. To help make the lifestyle changes he needed, he signed up for the Prediabetes Prevent T2 program through Samaritan Pacific Communities Hospital in Newport. Nearly a year later, he is no longer prediabetic.

“I’ve lost a lot of weight and feel much better,” he said. “There are a lot of scary things that can happen if you get diabetes — people lose limbs, they have heart problems and vision issues. This class is worth the commitment to prevent all that.”

Through a combination of education and inspiration, as well as group support, the year-long prediabetes program is designed to help people lose 5 to 7% of their starting weight, incorporate 150 minutes of moderate activity into each week, and make other lifestyle changes to improve their quality of life. The program uses a curriculum from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Not long after her husband died, Sally Sample of Newport learned she had prediabetes.

“I had never even heard the term prediabetic before, but maybe most people have it,” she said. “When my doctor told me I had it, and signed me up for the class, I thought I’d just go along with it and see what happens. Now I think the dietary portion of the program is just healthier eating whether you’re prediabetic or not, and I’m going to keep doing it.”

According to the CDC, 1 out of 3 American adults has prediabetes, a serious health condition where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. Studies show that losing a small amount of weight if overweight and getting regular physical activity can lower one’s risk for developing diabetes.

Each session of the year-long program is structured around learning ways to make small changes with big impact, such as moving more throughout the day, drinking more water, or paying attention to portions at meal times. 

The group support aspect is what keeps most people coming back.

“An important component to the class was the other people in the class,” said Janet Rackleff of Yachats. “The comradery helped us feel less isolated. Others shared great tips and silly ways to fool themselves into making better choices, which really is about making minor adjustments.” 

Harrison feels he would not have made the lifestyle changes on his own.

“I’ve learned that when I temporarily blow it one day that others do, too. It doesn’t mean the whole thing is over. You just get back on the horse and keep going,” he said. “I think about diabetes prevention all the time now.”

The program is led by a trained lifestyle coach, who facilitates and offers encouragement to participants. An additional class takes place through Samaritan North Lincoln Hospital once a year with another facilitator.

If you are interested in this program, a new class starts in September in Newport. Ask your health care provider for a referral or call 866-243-7747 to learn more.