After a successful program at YMCAs nationwide, Medicare will cover programs that help prevent diabetes among those with prediabetes.

What is Prediabetes?
Prediabetes is the condition when blood sugar levels are higher than usual, but not high enough to be considered diabetes. One in three adults has prediabetes in the United States, and 90% don’t know they have it. Without action, about 15-30% of those with prediabetes will develop Type 2 diabetes within 5 years.

What will Medicare cover?
If approved, Medicare will pay for certain “lifestyle change programs,” where a trained counselor leads a class focused on preventing Type 2 diabetes with eating habits and exercise. These programs were implemented in YMCAs across the country with a federal grant with a CDC-approved curriculum.

The YMCA programs saved Medicare $2,650 per person enrolled in the program over 15 months. Participants lost about 5% of their body weight, which significantly lessened the likelihood of diabetes.

Need convincing? Here are more results:
In one of the first studies on healthy eating habits and exercise on diabetes, the results were so strong that the study was ended early. About 3,000 participants between ages 25-75 were randomly sorted into three groups. Group 1 was treated with a healthy diet and exercise. Group 2 was treated with metformin, and Group 3 was given a placebo medication.

Groups 2 and 3, with medication, reduced their risk of diabetes by 31%. Group 1, with diet and exercise, reduced their risk by 58% and the patients lost at least 7% of their body weight. Those age 60 or older, reduced their risk by 71%. These rates of reduction have been seen in studies since.

The program will likely be covered by Medicare soon, as it doesn’t require congressional approval.

prediabetes-inforgraphicThis infographic is f

You can take the CDC’s quick test online
to see your risk of prediabetes here.

For more on the YMCA prediabetes program,
see this New York Times article.

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