Gretchen NorthBy Gretchen North, YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh

Residents of Pittsburgh’s Northside can reverse their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by participating in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which will be offered at Allegheny General Hospital for the first time on June 3.

Led by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the 12-month program includes 16 weekly sessions followed by 8 monthly sessions. During group sessions, a trained lifestyle coach guides participants through information and activities about nutrition, stress management, physical activity, and strategies for staying motivated. Each participant in the program aims to lose 7% of his or her body weight and increase physical activity to 150 minutes each week.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is based on a study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) which showed that lifestyle intervention to help people lose weight and exercise reduced cases of type 2 diabetes by 58%. For adults aged 65 and older, the risk reduction was 71%.

To be eligible for the program, participants must be 18 or older and have a body mass index (BMI) of 25 or greater. Other qualifying factors include a diagnosis of prediabetes via one of three blood tests, a previous diagnosis of gestational diabetes or a qualifying risk score based on a combination of risk factors such as age or a family history of the disease.

Beginning on June 3, 2014, the group will meet at Allegheny General Hospital at 320 East North Avenue at 5:45 p.m. each week for sixteen weeks, followed by monthly maintenance meetings.

Additional group sessions will take place on a rolling basis throughout the Pittsburgh area based on interest. While many of the groups may be held at YMCA branches, the program can be held at any community center, workplace, church or other location where a group is interested in the program.

To learn more about the program or how to start a group, contact Gretchen North, associate vice president of healthy living at the YMCA of Greater Pittsburgh, at diabetesprevention@ymcapgh.org or at (412) 227-3820. You can also visit www.ymcaofpittsburgh.org/diabetes.