f you live in Eastern Kentucky, you’ve probably heard of type 2 diabetes. Our region, sadly, has rates of type 2 that are higher than the state and national averages.
What you might not have heard of, though, is prediabetes. Basically, to have prediabetes means that your A1C (or “blood sugar”) levels are high enough that you’re officially in the danger zone for getting type 2 diabetes within the next few years— unless you can make some lifestyle changes.
Part of what makes prediabetes so tricky is that you can have it without showing any symptoms. In fact, the federal CDC says about 1 out of 3 Americans already has prediabetes, whether we know it or not. So, even if you know some of the tell-tale symptoms of type 2 diabetes (including things like vision trouble, excessive thirst, and needing to constantly use the restroom), you might not show any of these signs until you’ve already crossed the line into having type 2 diabetes.Could you have prediabetes? Take a quick quiz.
“[I lost] 25 pounds. This has been life-changing for me. And I couldn’t have hand-picked any better group.”
– LaDonna Arms (at left), Paintsville, Ky.
But, the good news is: even if type 2 diabetes runs in your family, and even if you have prediabetes, it is possible to slow, or even prevent, type 2 diabetes. And there is a program offered across Eastern Kentucky, The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), that was designed to help you do just that. It varies a little by county, but the DPP is a year-long program: along with a small group of others from your county, you meet once per week with a local, trained DPP lifestyle coach for the first sixteen weeks, and then about once per month after that. The curriculum, which was originally developed by the CDC, is evidence-based, and the ultimate goal is to learn how to make—and then start making!—healthy lifestyle changes, which can reduce your chances of ending up with type 2 diabetes.
And, yes, when we say “lifestyle changes,” this does include two words that many of us have complicated feelings about: weight loss. But here’s the thing: you don’t need to lose as much as you might think. Health professionals say that losing just 5-7% of your weight can go a long way in preventing diabetes. So if you currently weigh 300 lbs, that’s just losing 15 lbs, over the course of a whole year! In the DPP, everyone gets their own individual weight loss goal, and then classes focus on strategies for getting there: things like healthy recipes, eating strategies, and ways to get more exercise in over the course of the day.
“[I lost] 17 pounds. The protocol really works, in terms of knocking the pounds off.”
-Masha Ott (at left), Wolverine, Ky.
“I think… accountability: that’s the biggest thing that got me where I needed to be. I think I did lose the most in that class: 23 pounds.”
-Doris Newton (at right), Jackson, Ky.
And because you meet in a group, you get a built-in support system, a tight circle of people to swap strategies with, learn from, laugh with, and lean on. And, as DPP participants will tell you, the program gets results. (Click play at the top of this page to hear the voices of several local DPP participants & lifestyle coaches!)
In Eastern Kentucky, the DPP is currently offered* (or could be offered, with enough interest), at the following sites (click “Resources by County” at the top of this page for further diabetes prevention and management resources near you):
- The Cumberland Valley District Health Department (via the Clay County Health Department)
- The Johnson County Health Department
- Juniper Health (Breathitt, Lee, & Wolfe County)
- The Kentucky River District Health Department (Letcher, Leslie, Knott, & Perry County)
- The Lake Cumberland District Health Department (Adair, Casey, Clinton, Cumberland, Green, McCreary, Pulaski, Russell, Taylor, and Wayne County)
- The Lawrence County Health Department
- The University of Kentucky’s Barnstable Brown Diabetes Center (offering DPP at the extension offices in Knox & Whitley Counties)
- The Clover Fork Clinic (Harlan County) (Not offering DPP currently, but could potentially, given enough interest)
*note: due to the COVID-19 pandemic, in-person DPP meetings might not be happening currently; however, some local cohorts are still meeting virtually! Contact the DPP program nearest to you for the latest details.
It is also possible to join a DPP cohort online, through one of the following programs:
And for more information on prediabetes, type 2 diabetes, & diabetes prevention in Eastern Kentucky, click here for a ton of resources from the Kentucky Dept. of Health.