The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has fully recognized Mercy Hospital Northwest Arkansas’ Diabetes Prevention program, paving the way for Medicare to cover the cost of the life-changing program for area seniors.
The science-based program developed by the CDC has been proven to prevent the onset of diabetes in people with risk factors such as family history of diabetes and an elevated A1C blood measure. Research by the National Institutes of Health shows that people who complete the program cut their risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by more than half.
“Although the principles of the program are simple, the results are revolutionary,” said Ashton Caton, community wellness program manager, who directs Mercy’s program. “We have seen great success among our participants, and we’re pleased to have the CDC fully recognize our program.”
Participants in the year-long program are given two main goals: To lose 5-7 percent of their body weight and increase activity by 150 minutes per week. Lifestyle coaches teach participants about things like nutrition, reducing portion sizes and ways to work more activity into their daily routines, among other lessons.
The CDC evaluates programs by examining their methodology and success of participants. Full recognition is reserved for programs that have effectively delivered a quality, evidence-based program that meets all of the CDC’s standards.
CDC’s evaluation of Mercy’s program showed that participants lost 6.7 percent of their body weight, on average, and increased activity by 134 minutes per week. Most of the participants lowered their A1C measure to below the prediabetes range.
“Given the increasing incidence of obesity and diabetes, coupled with the significant number and severity of diabetes complications, I’m thrilled the hard work and efforts of Mercy co-workers has resulted in the CDC’s full recognition of the program,” said Dr. Steve Goss, president of Mercy Clinic. “This program is proven and effective and could have a lifetime of benefit for those who participate.”
Mercy began the program 18 months ago with a class of 19 participants who agreed to attend regular lifestyle coaching sessions and follow the program’s recommendations. Since then, two more classes, including one that wraps up in August, have initiated the program.
The success of the program has a social aspect, said Dr. Lisa Low, medical director of community health at Mercy. The program keeps class sizes small so participants get to know and encourage each other.
“You have somebody who’s rooting for you and cheering for you along the way and who’s also holding you accountable,” she said.