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YMCA to offer app-based diabetes prevention program

By Zach Mcnulty

The YMCA of Greater Kansas City will soon look for participants from Atchison as it launches a pilot program this year to help people lose weight who are at risk for diabetes.

The pilot translates the Y’s longstanding and effective Diabetes Prevention Program to the digital sphere via a mobile application. If successful, the program is likely to be implemented nationwide, said John Mikos, vice president of the Greater Kansas City YMCA. He noted also that he’s proud to offer the program locally, first.

“Our plan is to demonstrate that this model will work within our community type of setting so that we can demonstrate our ability for this to be taken nationally,” Mikos said.

The digital DPP is as much for blood pressure management and hypertension as it is for diabetes prevention, he said.

The Y’s existing DPP is a year-long program that combines small-group coaching, training and education toward the goals of weight loss and increased physical activity. It was created in 1994 from a partnership with the federal government as the government explored how to limit diabetes in the U.S. The Y’s program was eventually adopted as the framework for a national diabetes prevention program.

On its website, the Y claims that research shows the program can reduce new cases of Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent and 71 percent in adults 60 years old and older. Type 2 diabetes is preventable, but irreversible once it sets in. Twenty-nine million Americans have been diagnosed with diabetes while an additional 86 million Americans have a condition known as prediabetes, according to the Y.

This pilot program brings the DPP into the 21st Century, where participants can access the program on their smart phone. Currently, YMCA DPP participants need to physically go to a local YMCA, but, under this pilot program, users can participate in the DPP program virtually.

The Y has demonstrated success with its face-to-face program, Mikos said, and, through a new partnership with a technology company called Noom, the organization looks forward to overcoming logistical issues like physical distance to deliver the DPP “absolutely anywhere.”

All of the program’s components will be delivered via the mobile app, which includes features like meal logging, exercise tracking and social interaction with a YMCA coach and a group of peers who are also participating in the program.