Diabetes Prevention Program

May 13, 2021

Since Union County resident Lynne O’Connor joined the local Fanwood-Scotch Plains YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), she has learned three key healthy lifestyle changes: eat healthier, lose weight gradually and exercise regularly.

“For me personally, the program is great,” said O’Connor, 72, a retired teacher. “It’s wonderful for me to be monitored. It makes me think long and hard before choosing that bowl of ice cream that I don’t really need.”

O’Connor, a wife, mother of two and grandmother of five, participates in a year-long program that started on December 1, 2020 and is endorsed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 

Preventing chronic disease, such as Type 2 diabetes, is one of the most pressing health challenges in the United States. That is why the New Jersey YMCA State Alliance is tackling this issue head on with its Diabetes Prevention Program. The program is primarily based on lifestyle coaching using evidenced-based techniques recommended from the CDC and the YMCA.  

“Basically, it is about problem solving and goal setting,” said Donna Peart, the local YMCA’s director of healthy living, who runs the program. “Our two main goals are that participants work toward exercising 150 minutes per week and have a goal to lose 5 to 7% of their body weight. So, I tell participants to just believe in the process. And people are like ‘wow.’ It may take a few weeks and then they’re really excited that they’re making changes and they’re being successful.”

Suzanne O’Connell, the YMCA’s director of strategic partnerships, is encouraged by the participation in the program, even in the virtual setting brought on by the pandemic. “We’ve received very positive feedback regarding the group support and the small lifestyle changes individuals have made from week to week,” said O’Connell who oversees the DPP program statewide. “This is a pre-diabetic program that teaches the key things people need to do to avoid getting the actual disease.”

O’Connor said the program has eased her concerns over her elevated blood sugar levels that her doctor noted during her annual physical last year. She said she is getting blood work in May and believes this year’s visit to the doctor will be different.

“I feel good,” O’Connor said. “I’m hoping I can keep it up when nobody’s monitoring me. I’m looking forward to my yearly physical in June.”