After its first few months of work with Mount Sinai Beth Israel (MSBI) employees who have prediabetes, a diabetes prevention program launched last fall by MSBI management and union partners, in collaboration with the Labor Management Project’s (LMP) Workplace and Community Health Program, reports encouraging results.

People with prediabetes have elevated blood glucose levels. Those levels are not high enough to qualify as diabetes, but they cause increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, heart disease, stroke and other serious health problems. This serious condition affects millions of Americans, including more than one in three 1199SEIU members, or nearly 41,000 people.

Fortunately, people with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes by changing their exercise and dietary habits. To help them do so, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) has developed a research-based lifestyle change program known as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The aim of the DPP is to help people with prediabetes lose five to seven percent of their body weight through healthier eating and 150 minutes of weekly physical activity, thus cutting the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent. During the first six months of the year-long program, participants meet monthly in a group with a trained lifestyle coach for a total of 16 sessions; thereafter, the group meets monthly for an additional six months. Participants learn about decreasing fat and calorie intake, making healthy eating and physical activity a way of life, problem solving, dealing with negative thoughts and stress and staying motivated, among other topics.

The MSBI program trained MSBI employees and LMP staff to serve as lifestyle coaches, helping fellow workers meet their weight-loss and exercise goals. To date, four cohorts serving both union members and other MSBI employees have been launched, with a total of 76 participants. The first two cohorts have completed the 16-week core curriculum, the third has completed its twelfth session, and the fourth group just launched on April 5. More than 80% of participants who attended four or more DPP sessions lost weight, for a total of over 205 pounds and an average of more than six pounds each.

DPP participants have expressed great enthusiasm for the program. MSBI employee Leslie Spencer thanked her coaches effusively, saying: “I couldn’t have made this lifestyle change without your help and encouragement! I will always be grateful for this program! Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”

LMP plans to launch one more cohort at MSBI this spring. For more information about the program, please contact Dr. Chris Pernell, Senior Manager, LMP Workplace and Community Health Program.

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