Southwest Florida takes on diabetes prevention


At-risk seniors in a Florida community are getting some extra help with preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes. The new project comes not a moment too soon—about half of all U.S. adults aged 65 years or older have prediabetes, the precursor to diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Venice, a southwest coastal town in Florida, is the fourth location to be announced in a collaborative pilot program taking place among physician practices, the YMCA of the USA and the AMA. Part of the AMA’s Improving Health Outcomes initiative, this pilot is exploring a process for physicians to screen patients for prediabetes, refer eligible patients to participate in the local YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program and receive feedback from the program to use in patients’ care plans.

Based on the CDC's evidence-based National Diabetes Prevention Program, the YMCA lifestyle intervention program has been proven to help patients prevent or delay the onset of diabetes. Venice area residents over age 65 with prediabetes can attend the program at no cost.

In Venice, that’s a big deal. An estimated 35 percent of local adults has prediabetes.

Last year, participants of the SKY Family YMCA of Southern Florida’s Diabetes Prevention Program saw an average weight loss of 5 percent, which significantly reduced their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. More than 375 participants already have completed the program in the Venice area. The Diabetes Prevention Program is available to anyone with prediabetes over the age of 18.  

The AMA pilot, already in three other states, will establish a process for physicians to routinely screen for prediabetes, refer patients to the YMCA and receive updates to incorporate into their patients’ care plans. Currently, the pilot exists in Delaware, Indiana and Minnesota, and a fifth location will be announced in the coming weeks.

Visit the CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program website to find out whether an evidence-based diabetes prevention program is available in your community.