Diabetes-prevention program to begin this summer

Written by Renee Gross, KBBI

A pilot program to prevent Type 2 diabetes will launch at the end of the month in the Kenai Peninsula. Prevent T2 Diabetes Prevention Program is part of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s national effort to bring prevention counseling to underserved areas.

Nim Ha is the program manager for the State of Alaska Diabetes Prevention and Control Program, and she says right now, the Kenai Peninsula has one in-person service in Seward.

“The exciting thing about this diabetes-prevention program is that it is a telephone-based prevention program,” she said. “The other programs that we have in Alaska are what we call in-person programs meaning that participants go to a certain location to access the classes. But this one is delivered completely over the phone.”

People who have prediabetes are eligible to connect with a trained peer-mentor at no-cost. During the year-long program, mentors will support and coach people toward a healthier lifestyle.

Ha says most mentors will come from the Kenai Peninsula and a few from greater Alaska.

“When you have mentors who come from your area, they understand what the resources are in your community, and what the challenges are,” she said. “If you’re trying to get more exercise, for example, trying to eat healthier, and they are just much more intimate with what’s available to you.”

Ha says the state expects the phone program to be just as effective as the one in-person, which has helped numerous people lose weight, develop healthy lifestyles and prevent Type 2 diabetes.

But she adds there’s a still a lot more work to be done. The CDC estimates there are about 84 million U.S. adults that have prediabetes.

“That’s about one in every three adults in this country that have prediabetes,” she said “The concerning thing about that besides the fact that there are a lot of people with prediabetes is that most people who have prediabetes don’t know they have it. So it’s about 9 in 10 people who have prediabetes but don’t know they have it. ”

If the program does well in the Kenai Peninsula, Ha says it will expand to other areas of the state.

If you’d like to be involved either as a mentor or as a participant, call Leslie Shallcross at 907-474-2426. There will also be a meet and greet Wednesday from 1:30-4:00 at Central Peninsula Hospital with members of the National Association of Chronic Disease Directors, admin from the state and others.