This summer, the West Cook YMCA is kicking off its Diabetes Prevention Program– an evidence-based initiative shown to reduce the burden of type 2 diabetes – one of the nation’s costliest chronic diseases. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a group-based lifestyle intervention for adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, and has been shown to reduce the number of new cases of diabetes by 58 percent overall and by 71 percent in adults over 60. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program will be available in the West Cook YMCA community beginning July 2015.

Dr. Scott Yen, a Fellow of the American College of Physicians and Associate Program Director at the West Suburban Hospital Internal Medicine Residency Program, has practiced internal medicine in the Oak Park-River Forest area for the past 20 years. Dr. Yen is a West Cook YMCA board member who will serve as Chair of the program’s Diabetes Prevention Community Advisory Board.

“There is definitely a need for diabetes prevention throughout the country, and our community is no different. The CDC reports that 29 million Americans have diabetes and, if trends continue, this number could triple by 2050. This is staggering,” said Dr. Yen. “But what’s more staggering is that currently, 86 million, or 1 in 3, adults have prediabetes but only 10 percent are aware of it. Knowing your risk for prediabetes is the key to taking control and reducing these statistics. There are so many people at risk. As a general internist in the community, I’ve seen firsthand some of the problems that occur when you develop diabetes.”

“West Cook YMCA received funding from YMCA of the USA (Y-USA) and the Arthur Foundation to roll out the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program in our community. Currently, it is the only Y in the region to offer the program,” said Phillip Jiménez, West Cook YMCA President and CEO. “We are very excited to be a part of this program. As we look to education and prevention to help curb the rate of diabetes in our communities, we are fulfilling the Y’s goal of making not only our community, but our society healthier.”

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a year-long program of 16 weekly sessions followed by eight monthly sessions. In a relaxed classroom setting, a trained Lifestyle Coach helps participants learn skills that will help them incorporate healthy eating, increase physical activity, and make other behavior changes into their everyday lives. The goals of the program are 7 percent weight loss and an increase in physical activity to 150 minutes per week. To be eligible for this program, participants must be at least 18 years old, overweight with a BMI of 25 or greater (22 for Asian individuals), and at risk for developing type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Persons diagnosed with diabetes do not qualify. “This program really encompasses the lifestyle changes that are most important to diabetes prevention—physical activity, healthier eating habits and weight loss,” says Dr. Yen. “You can’t just go on a diet to prevent diabetes. You need to change how you feel about exercise and how you look at food. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program will help participants replace old lifestyle habits with a new one that includes regular moderate exercise, healthier eating and stress reduction. The healthy living lifestyle does a better job than just treating someone with medication. We’re very excited about this program and I think we can make a meaningful impact on the community.”

A Y membership is not required for participation. Financial assistance is available for those who qualify.

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program uses a CDC-approved curriculum and is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program.

For more information about the Diabetes Prevention Program contact Krystle Voegel, Health & Wellness Director, at

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