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AARP and YMCA promote program to combat diabetes

AARP is partnering with the YMCA to launch pilot neighborhood health programs across the country. The program available at all YMCAs in Delaware helps people diagnosed as pre-diabetic to learn how to change their lifestyle and avoid getting diabetes.

It lasts one year, and the goal for participants is a 7% weight reduction and 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Health coach Nita Battish says that combination, along with healthy eating, successfully brings a participant’s blood hemoglobin level below what is considered pre-diabetic.

“We have topics on healthy eating; we have topics on physical activity. Like, moderate activity: what counts? A lot of people don’t know. ‘Is what I’m doing light? Is it vigorous? Is it moderate?’ So, we talk about that,” said Battish.

Battish says participants in the class cooperate and help one another reach the goals. Peggy Sacher is one of the 77 people to complete the program so far.

“I lost a whole bunch of weight and I actually get to the gym and to the pool three or four times a week—which is a miracle for me. It’s probably given my knees which need to be replaced, probably an extra year or two of life. And I’m a singer, and I sing better, and I think it’s because my lungs now have more room,” said Sacher.

Sacher is no longer pre-diabetic, and says she became friends with other people in her class.

AARP officials say Delaware’s program may branch out to YMCAs across the nation.

Delaware is ranked 17th highest in the nation for people with diabetes. It’s estimated about seven of every 100 people in Delaware have diabetes. Also, of the about 86 million people in the U.S living with prediabetes, it's estimated only 10% are aware.

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