|BOSTON — The Boston Public Health Commission (BPHC) announced a coordinated set of resources for the prevention and management of diabetes, a chronic disease affecting eight percent of adult Bostonians, according to BPHC.
The announcement was made during National Diabetes Month, when communities across the country bring attention to diabetes and its impact on millions of Americans.
The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which helps people eat healthier, become more active and lose weight, is recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for people who are at risk but do not yet have diabetes. Participating in this program can delay or even prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes, which accounts for 90-95 percent of most cases, and occurs when the body becomes less sensitive to the insulin the pancreas produces.
“Diabetes can be prevented and managed, but residents need help and community resources to maintain healthy lifestyles,” said BPHC Executive Director Monica Valdes Lupi, JD, MPH. “We’ve been expanding our resources and we’re pleased that the YMCA of Greater Boston is taking leadership in offering the nationally-recognized Diabetes Prevention Program. We encourage everyone at risk for diabetes to talk to their health care provider and see if the program might be right for them.”
People over 45 who are overweight, and have a family history are at highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The risk is much higher for black and Latino populations. However, lifestyle changes can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes and help control diabetes once diagnosed. Eating a healthy diet, staying active, and not using tobacco products are important for both diabetes prevention and management.
Up to 90 percent of adults with prediabetes may not be aware of their status at a time when they can still make lifestyle changes to stop the progression to diabetes. The YMCA of Greater Boston offers the multi-class Diabetes Prevention Program across Boston, free of charge.
“This is an important program for the Y. Participants can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent, and by 70 percent for adults over the age of 60,” said James Morton, president and CEO of the Greater Boston YMCA. “We’ve offered the program for two years and helped 209 participants adopt and maintain a healthier lifestyle reducing their risk of type 2 diabetes. We are fortunate to offer our Diabetes Prevention Program free of charge thanks to funding from Sun Life.”
Diabetes is a chronic disease in which the body cannot effectively regulate its blood glucose levels because it is unable to produce or use a hormone called insulin. There are three main categories of diabetes: type 1, type 2, and gestational diabetes.
In Boston and nationwide, there are racial and ethnic differences among those who have diabetes, according to BPCH’s Research and Evaluation Office. Black and Latino adults have significantly higher prevalence, 15 percent and 11 percent respectively, compared to white adults at 5 percent. Adults who have lower educational attainment and incomes also have high diabetes prevalence, compared to those with higher education and income levels.
BPHC helps residents prevent and keep diabetes under control through resources and partnerships across the city. The new Community Food Resource Lists and Maps, developed in partnership with the Mayor’s Office of Food Access (OFA) and the Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT) let residents know where low-cost or free food resources are available across Boston.
Additionally, BPHC’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program works with City agencies and other partners to protect Boston residents, workers, students, and youth from the harmful effects of tobacco smoke. The program aims to prevent youth smoking and links community members to resources for quitting smoking. For more information, please call (617) 534-3115.
For people over 45, overweight, or who have a family history of diabetes, please contact your health care provider about your risk. The Mayor’s Health Line (617) 534-5050 and 1 (800) 847-0710 can help connect Bostonians to health insurance and primary care.