The Importance of Early Interventions for Diabetes

January 23, 2018

Every 21 seconds someone in the United States is newly diagnosed with diabetes.1 This is a troubling statistic for the health of the affected individuals as well as for both employees and employers who are paying more in diabetes-related healthcare costs.  The growing epidemic in diabetes is taking a physical, emotional and financial toll on our country1.  It is time to examine this epidemic, reduce the danger for those at risk for developing diabetes, and stem this growing tidal wave.

The 30 million Americans currently living with diabetes1, are only the tip of the iceberg.   There are an additional 86 million Americans living with prediabetes who have a high risk of developing both diabetes and heart disease in the near future2.  With simple, proven lifestyle changes, prediabetics can prevent the development of diabetes or actually reverse their diabetes. There is enormous opportunity to reverse this epidemic with targeted, healthy lifestyle programming2.

Diabetes Prevention Program

In 2002, a study funded by the CDC and National Institutes of Health (NIH) examined the effects of weight loss through both diet change and increased physical activity on the prevention and/or delay of the onset of Type 2 diabetes. This ground-breaking study showed that millions of high-risk people could indeed delay or avoid developing Type 2 diabetes through this lifestyle intervention known as a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). In fact, participants in the program reduced their risk for developing diabetes by 58 percent!

In the workplace, Diabetes Prevention Programs (DPP) have been a highly effective way to improve the health of individual employees with prediabetes and help employers manage their healthcare costs. The CDC and the American Diabetes Association estimate that the average annual medical cost for a person with diabetes is $13,7002, of which $7,900 is directly spent on treating the diabetes. The DPP cuts the risk of diabetes in half for prediabetics, and only requires a small investment of approximately $300–$500.

The DPP is a one-year program led by a trained lifestyle coach. It focuses on long-term lifestyle changes including healthy eating, stress reduction and increased physical activity in a group setting. The advantage of the group setting encourages maximum engagement of employees through peer mentorship and a support network that carries on after the DPP session.

Participants in a DPP learn skills necessary to achieve a healthy lifestyle, including:

  • Eating healthy foods without giving up all the foods they enjoy
  • Adding physical activity to their lives
  • Dealing with stress
  • Coping with the challenges commonly faced when changing health habits

With these newly learned skills, DPP participants will see improvement in body weight, lower blood sugar, reduction in blood pressure and other biometric markers. In addition, individuals experience health improvements and feel more energized and a stronger sense of well-being. Employers will reap the benefits of a healthier, happier culture in the workplace and beyond.

Providing programs for diabetics and prediabetics is important, but engagement in the program is key. It is important to work with a partner that has proven success in engaging individuals in programming to take control of their health and follow evidence-based guidelines to live their healthiest lives. Participants must take an active role in the interventions or success will not be achieved. This means individuals need access to their health coaches and supporting resources to effectively take control and self-manage their own health and well-being.

Many employers have disease management programs in place for their employees, which includes assistance for those with diabetes. Following are programs you may not know about which are designed for those in a pre-diabetic state.

At-Risk Health Coaching

This coaching program often is implemented as a compliment to a condition management program. An at-risk program identifies members currently in a “pre” disease state who are not typically supported effectively with condition management or wellness programs. At-risk coaching reduces the onset of disease by coaching those at highest risk of developing a disease, before they need condition management interventions.

This program is targeted to individuals with metabolic syndrome (have 3+ metabolic risk factors) who are in a pre-disease state. Participants receive coaching and education tailored to their risk factors to slow the progression of their emerging disease. The program empowers participants with the knowledge and skills to proactively make healthy behavior changes, leading to improved biometric numbers and lowering their number of metabolic risks.

One in three Americans born today will develop diabetes in their lifetime.3 Now is the time to start impacting individuals at-risk for diabetes and work towards early interventions to prevent or slow the disease progression. For more information about implementing early intervention programs and to help pave the way to employee health and well-being, call 888-323-8431.

 

Resources:
1 American Diabetes Association
2 CDC.gov
3 Narayan VKM, Boyle JP, Thompson TJ, Sorensen SW, Williamson DF. Lifetime risk for diabetes mellitus in the United States. JAMA. 2003;290:1884–1890.
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