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AMA News Room

June 8, 2014

AMA Announces Partnership with YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities, Minnesota Physicians to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

For immediate release:
June 8, 2014

Senator Franken Supportive of AMA, YMCA Efforts to Increase Access to Diabetes Prevention Programs

MINNEAPOLIS, MN – The American Medical Association (AMA) today announced a new partnership with the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities and Minnesota physicians aimed at improving the health of local individuals who have prediabetes and preventing type 2 diabetes. As part of the collaboration, the AMA will engage Minneapolis-area physicians to screen patients for prediabetes and refer those eligible to participate in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program offered by its Twin Cities branches.

"One out of every three American adults has prediabetes and only about 11 percent are even aware that they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes, which is why the AMA is committed to raising awareness and connecting physician practices to the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program to help those at greatest risk prevent or delay diabetes," said Ardis Dee Hoven, M.D., president of the American Medical Association. "Type 2 diabetes is also one of the key drivers of soaring healthcare costs, and the American Medical Association is partnering with the YMCA in the Twin Cities and elsewhere to improve health outcomes of local residents through better prevention, thereby contributing to reduced healthcare costs for this disease."

These organizations hope the collaboration will have a significant impact for Twin Cities residents, where an estimated two-thirds of the adult population has prediabetes. Individuals with prediabetes have higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. However, those with prediabetes are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, unless they take steps to prevent or delay its onset by making important lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and moderate weight loss.

The YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program is modeled after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Diabetes Prevention Program that provides participants with 16 weeks of core education on nutrition and exercise from a trained lifestyle coach as well as peer and goal-setting support. Following the initial sessions, participants meet monthly for up to a year to monitor their progress. The program is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health that has shown, among adults with prediabetes, a 58 percent reduction in the number of new cases of diabetes, and a 71 percent reduction in new cases among those over age 60.

"Preventing diabetes not only keeps people healthy—it saves money," said U.S. Sen. Al Franken. "Partnerships like the AMA and the Twin Cities YMCA make the National Diabetes Prevention Program more accessible. It's a program that is proven to keep people healthy while saving them money, and I've long been a champion of it—I authored the legislation that provided grant funds for community-based organizations like the Twin Cities YMCA to offer the Diabetes Prevention Program, and I have a new bill to provide this program to seniors through Medicare. It's commonsense and a win-win."

Participants of the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program offered through the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities saw an average weight loss of five percent last year, which significantly reduced their risk for type 2 diabetes as a weight loss of 5 to 7 percent has been shown to lower the risk of developing the disease. To date, more than 800 participants have completed the program in the Twin Cities Metro Area. An added benefit for residents of the Twin Cities is that Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program free of charge.

"In the Minneapolis/St. Paul metro area, the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities is on the forefront of preventing chronic diseases like type 2 diabetes through the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, showing measurable results. Over two-thirds of the adult population is at risk for type 2 diabetes and few are aware. The YMCA's program can help participants make small lifestyle changes that result in big rewards," said Sheryl Grover, director of Chronic Disease Prevention, YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.

Physician referral is not a requirement to participate in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program (any adult with prediabetes can participate). However, the AMA is working with physicians, academia, government agencies, businesses, health advocacy groups, and community-based organizations on strategies to track and improve health outcomes in order to advance the quality and safety of care and contribute to the best use of resources.

To establish a streamlined referral process to the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, Minneapolis area physicians are working with the AMA to:

  • Increase education and awareness of prediabetes by promoting physician screening of those at risk; and
  • Increase physician referrals of people with prediabetes to the evidence-based YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Programs.

The Minnesota Medical Association is partnering with the AMA as a part of these efforts to encourage Twin Cities physicians to refer at-risk patients to the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program.

"Our physicians understand the importance of helping patients improve their lifestyles and arming them with tools they need to avoid the onset of diabetes," said Cindy Firkins Smith, M.D., president, Minnesota Medical Association. "We, like the AMA, believe we must approach health care differently today than in years past to ensure the best health outcomes for our patients."

Minneapolis is one of four locations where the AMA is collaborating with the YMCA to increase the number of physicians screening for prediabetes and referring at-risk patients to the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program. Wilmington, DE was the first location announced in December 2013, where four physician practices in the state are working with the AMA and the YMCA. The additional locations will be announced in the coming weeks.

"The AMA is focusing on efforts to improve the nation's health through our Improving Health Outcomes initiative to prevent type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease and improve outcomes for those who suffer from these conditions," Hoven said. "Our goal is to identify the most effective ways to prevent disease and improve outcomes and to spread the findings nationally in ways that reduce the burdens of illness and the associated cost to our nation."

As the number of diabetes prevention programs continue to increase across the country, even more patients could be covered for their participation under a new proposed Medicare bill, which seeks to amend the Social Security Act to provide coverage for the CDC's National Diabetes Prevention Program to eligible beneficiaries. If adopted, a recent study estimates that the bill could reduce federal spending by $1.3 billion over a decade while reducing the incidence of diabetes among seniors by more than one-third.

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*AMA Wire story with testimonial of participant who recently completed the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program through the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities.



Kelly Jakubek
AMA Media & Editorial
(312) 464-4443


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