AMA Announces Collaboration with SKY Family YMCA, Sarasota County Medical Society to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

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For immediate release:
Sept. 2, 2014

AMA Urges More Venice Area Physicians to Join Pilot Program

VENICE, FL – The American Medical Association (AMA) is encouraging Venice area physicians to participate in a new pilot program aimed at helping their patients prevent type 2 diabetes. As part of the pilot program, physicians would agree to screen patients for prediabetes and refer eligible patients to participate in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program offered by the Venice branch of the SKY Family YMCA.

"More than 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. This is why the AMA is committed to raising awareness about prediabetes and ensuring patients at greatest risk are referred to proven diabetes prevention programs to help them prevent or delay diabetes," said Robert M. Wah, 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 YMCA branches in southwest Florida and elsewhere to improve health outcomes of local residents through better prevention, thereby contributing to reduced healthcare costs for this disease."

The Sarasota County Medical Society has been instrumental in helping the AMA launch this grassroots effort. The organizations hope the collaboration will significantly impact Venice area residents, where an estimated 35 percent 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 at greater risk for heart disease and stroke, and 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 healthy eating and physical activity 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 which has shown, among adults with prediabetes, a 58 percent reduction in the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, and a 71 percent reduction in new cases among those over age 60.

Last year, participants of the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program offered through the SKY Family YMCA of southwest Florida saw an average weight loss of five percent, which significantly reduced their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Research shows that a weight loss of between 5 to 7 percent can lower the risk of developing the disease. To date, more than 375 participants have completed the program in the Venice Area. Another added benefit for Venice area residents age 65 and older is that Medicare beneficiaries can participate in the program free of charge.

"Right now, we're facing an epidemic of obesity and related chronic disease, fueled by years of unhealthy eating and declining physical activity. With more than one-third of American adults—over 60 million people—being obese, we knew that we needed to start offering people opportunities to change their lives through chronic disease prevention programs like the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program," said Ken Modzelewski, president & CEO of the SKY Family YMCA. "The Y is the voice of healthy living in our community and we're a place where everyone belongs, wherever they are in their journey to live healthier lives."

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 to increase the number of patients who benefit from proven diabetes prevention programs like the one offered in Venice by raising awareness and closing the gaps that exist in getting patients enrolled in communities across the country.

"Through the AMA's work in bringing together physicians, academia, government agencies, businesses, health advocacy groups, and community-based organizations, we are developing 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," Dr. Wah Said.

To establish a streamlined referral process to the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, Venice 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 Program.

"Our physicians recognize the importance of preventive care, especially in preventing the onset of diabetes," said Andrew Marlowe, M.D., president, Sarasota County Medical Society. "We believe that education and prevention continue to be at the core of our role as modern physicians."

Venice is one of five locations where the AMA is partnering with the YMCA to increase the number of physicians screening for prediabetes and referring at-risk patients to local diabetes prevention programs, including sites in Wilmington, DE, Indianapolis, IN and Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN. A fifth location will be announced in the coming weeks.

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