People find support in the Y's group-based  Diabetes Prevention Program.  Photo provided by the YMCA of Greater Louisville.

People find support in the Y's group-based Diabetes Prevention Program. Photo provided by the YMCA of Greater Louisville.

Diabetes is a terrible disease. Truth be told, it probably frightens me even more than cancer does. I spent 11 years of my professional life trying to improve outreach to and education of people living with diabetes, to improve their quality and quantity of life. It was frustrating work. This experience led me to join and participate in the Louisville Health Advisory Board’s Diabetes sub-committee.

As a group, our sub-committee made the courageous decision to focus on the ‘long game’ by choosing to target preventing Type 2 Diabetes with the CDC-approved, evidence-based Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP).

DPP focuses on lifestyle changes for people diagnosed with prediabetes, which is very common and tremendously underdiagnosed. Participants in DPP programs can often prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. In fact, research from the National Institutes of Health shows that DPP can reduce the onset of diabetes by 58%.

The YMCA of Greater Louisville has been a national and local leader in DPP programming, deploying dozens of specially-trained lifestyle coaches, who offer DPP in a variety of locations, including YMCAs across Jefferson County and in southern Indiana. The list of CDC-approved DPP providers across Jefferson County is growing, but demand for the class continues to lag.

So we’ve been busy working to build a pipeline to shepherd people with prediabetes from diagnosis to successful completion of a CDC-approved DDP program. This pipeline is taking shape—thanks to multi-sectorial collaborations highlighted by:

  • Private sector engagement of more physicians in the work of testing for and diagnosing prediabetes,
  • State and local government development of resource guides and training for referral center staff,
  • Non-profit innovations around employer engagement. 

Realizing a future without the debilitating effects of diabetes will require an ongoing commitment for each of us to share the best of our knowledge and resources. We’re on it!

Stay tuned for National Diabetes Month in November, when we’ll roll out two projects that demonstrate the power of collective action to improve health and wellness.

About the author: Leanne French serves as the Administrator for Maternal and Child Health at the Louisville Department of Public Health and Wellness, where for the past 13 years she’s worked with amazing community partners to develop infrastructure for better health for all.

French is a leader within the Louisville Health Advisory Board’s Diabetes sub-committee, which is co-chaired by Steve Tarver, CEO of YMCA of Greater Louisville and Andrea Dougherty, Community Health Supervisor for Louisville Metro Department of Public Health and Wellness.

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