Small changes can help prevent diabetes

Taking small steps in health can help prevent you from becoming diabetic.

One in three adults—about 2.6 million adults in Michigan—have prediabetes. Most of these people are unaware of their condition. Many also do not know that with simple lifestyle changes, progression from prediabetes to diabetes can be prevented. Prediabetes means a person has a blood glucose (blood sugar) level higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. Those with prediabetes have a higher risk of developing Type 2 diabetes within five years. Prediabetes is also a risk factor for heart disease and stroke.

The good news is that people with prediabetes may delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes and possibly return their blood glucose levels to normal by participating in a new national program called the National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). This evidence based, lifestyle change program for preventing Type 2 diabetes is now being offered in Michigan communities. The NDPP is based on studies that have shown people who have prediabetes and have lost a modest amount of weight (five to seven percent of their weight) and they are physically active at least 150 minutes a week , which can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. For an individual that weighs 200 pounds, to reach their goal weight means losing 10 to 14 pounds.

The goal of the NDPP is to help participants make lifestyle changes to lose weight, reduce fat in their diet and be physically active most days of the week. The program is led by trained lifestyle coaches who motivate and build on group dynamics to encourage participants to make healthy behavior changes for life. Lifestyle coaches lead small groups in this one-year lifestyle change program which includes 16 core sessions (usually one per week), followed by six post-core sessions (one per month). Keeping a log or a journal is a large part of the NDPP, as evidence has shown the more participants track (log) their weight, what they eat and their physical activity, the more successful they will be at reaching their long-term goals.

To participate in the NDPP, a person must be overweight and have prediabetes or be at high risk. Prediabetes is determined by one of the following blood test results:

  • Fasting plasma glucose between 100-125 mg/d
  • A1c between 5.7 percent and 6.4 percent
  • Two hour plasma glucose between 140 to 199 mg/dl

In addition, a combination of risk factors such as family history, being overweight or obese, having gestational diabetes, and inactivity may also put a person at risk and therefore make them eligible for the NDPP.

To find local NDPP programs in Michigan visit To learn more about the program, call Laura Anderson, Michigan State University Extension educator at 269-945-1388. For more information, please visit

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