4 Diabetes Prevention Tips

by Darcy Lewis

November 20, 2017

Making healthy lifestyle changes is hard. Maintaining those healthy lifestyle changes is even harder.

Let’s say you decide to hit the gym before work three days a week or to bring a salad from home every day for lunch. Your motivation will probably be highest right when you decide to make the change. Those first few days might be fairly easy, too. But what happens the first time you oversleep or forget to stock up on greens?

On your own, you might struggle to stay motivated. But with a structured program and a coach in your corner, you can shake off any setbacks and keep moving toward your healthy lifestyle goals.

That’s the idea behind the National Diabetes Prevention Program, a public-private partnership to help prevent type 2 diabetes. Federal agencies, health plans, employers, universities, health departments, health care providers, and national health associations all collaborate to make it easier for people with prediabetes to reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes and improve their overall health, with the help of affordable, high-quality lifestyle change programs. These programs:

  • Can be in person, online, or a combination of the two.
  • Are led by a trained lifestyle coach.
  • Emphasize getting more physical activity, eating healthier, and reducing stress.
  • Follow a CDC-approved curriculum.
  • Set a relatively modest 5 percent weight loss goal, an amount shown to decrease diabetes risk.

How Health Plans Help

Since the National DPP launched in 2012, AHIP and several of its member health plans have been active participants. These health plans test different approaches to making diabetes prevention programs an important part of their communities.

Here are four ways to reduce type 2 diabetes risk:

  1. Remove cost barriers—As of January 2017, all Blue Shield of California members enrolled in its commercial health plans have free access to a nationwide network of diabetes prevention programs, available in-person and online. Blue Shield members can be referred by a physician, or can enroll in any program after completing an online risk assessment.
  2. Meet cultural differences—Last year, EmblemHealth became the first health plan to receive full recognition from the CDC for its Diabetes Prevention Program in New York City. Classes are taught in English, Spanish, and Chinese, to better meet the diverse needs of New Yorkers.
  3. Make it personalPeople with prediabetes get best results from Denver Health’s program when members are personally referred by their provider. Providers get notified when referred patients enroll in the Diabetes Prevention Program, so they know to discuss progress at office visits throughout the year. A referral is not required, though, and the health plan gives an open invitation to all members.
  4. Bring convenienceFlorida Blue has achieved great success with its Better You Diabetes Prevention Program by making it widely available throughout the state. People can participate at YMCA facilities, employer worksites, patient-centered medical homes, Florida Blue community-based retail centers, and online.

These and other health plans see the value that diabetes prevention brings to their members and communities. The stakes may be high; luckily, proven prevention resources are more widely available than ever before.