Highlands Diabetes Center offers lifestyle change program

| Monday, Jan. 6, 2014, 12:01 a.m.

Highlands Hospital Diabetes Center will offer the Group Lifestyle Balance Program.

The evidence-based lifestyle change and weight-loss program is targeted to those at risk for diabetes or those diagnosed with pre-diabetes.

Sessions provide education, encouragement and the tools necessary to help individuals reach their healthy lifestyle goals.

The program has many benefits. It can help people cut their risk of diabetes in half. Studies have shown that making modest behavior changes helped participants lose 5 to 7 percent of their body weight — that is 10 to 14 pounds for a 200-pound person. The lifestyle changes reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent in people with pre-diabetes.

The lifestyle balance program is based on the original diabetes prevention program, which was a randomized, controlled diabetes prevention trial demonstrating that intensive lifestyle intervention reduced the risk for the development of type 2 diabetes, lowered the risk of metabolic syndrome and reduced risk factors for cardiovascular disease in high-risk individuals.

The new program is an adaptation of the original developed by the University of Pittsburgh, which translated the material into “real world” application. The program teaches participants strategies for incorporating physical activity into daily life and eating healthy. Lifestyle coaches work with participants to identify emotions and situations that can sabotage their success, and the group process encourages participants to share strategies for dealing with challenging situations. The goal of the program is to promote a 7 percent weight loss through healthy eating and exercise, and support from lifestyle coaches.

The program consists of 12 weekly sessions, one hour in length, then bi-weekly meetings for three months and finally, monthly sessions for the last six months of the yearlong program. Diabetes educators Bridgette Lowry and Heidi McClain are trained in use of the program and are approved lifestyle coaches from the University of Pittsburgh.

“We are proud to be able to offer this valuable program to local residents,” Lowry said. “I have been the facilitator of the GLBP elsewhere and have seen the remarkable results people can achieve. The group setting is very beneficial in the early weeks as participants share ideas, successes and even healthy recipes. I urge anyone with a family history of diabetes, with any risk factors or those who are pre-diabetic to sign up for this program.”

Insurance does not cover diabetes prevention programs. The cost of the program is $75 for the year and includes materials.

“Hopefully in the future, insurances will be covering this important program to help the 79 million people across the U.S. that are estimated to have pre-diabetes,” Lowry said.

Classes will begin Feb. 4, offering a 2 p.m. session and a 6 p.m. session. Screenings will be conducted at 2 and 6 p.m. Jan. 23 and 30.

The Highlands Hospital Diabetes Center is at 1064 Morrell Ave. in Village Plaza. For more information and to register, call the center at 724-628-8008.

Nancy Henry is a contributing writer.

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