Diabetes Prevention Program set to be first treatment for pre-diabetics this year

As obese patients make their way into doctors offices in 2013, they probably won't get a prescription for pills or a referral for weight loss surgery.

The prescription predicted to be the go-to treatment for preventing type 2 diabetes this year is exercise. Specifically, the Diabetes Prevention Program--a regimen of getting active and learning how to eat properly.

Sound simple? It is. But the program has been shown to be incredibly effective in clinical trials. And with the rising costs associated with the diabetes epidemic in America, healthcare providers and policymakers hope this approach may ease the burden before it gets any worse.

The program

In essence, the program is led by a trained fitness/nutrition coach who spends 12 weeks--one session a week--with patients, teaching them how to set goals for losing 5 to 7 percent of their body weight, reducing fat and calorie intake, tracking what they eat and getting a minimum of 150 minutes of exercise every week.

Part of the program is also helping patients learn how to avoid gaining pounds they've lost--a typical struggle for those who lose even large amounts of weight during initial weight-loss programs.

Availability and cost

About 28 states currently offer the Diabetes Prevention Program, but cost may be an issue for some. The researchers who developed the program say that it rings up at about $1,300 per patient. Some YMCA chapters have been trained to offer the program, which could help reduce the financial burden.

Experts say that the program will be a good test of the Affordable Care Act, since, starting in June, many health insurance providers will be required to offer obesity-related weight-loss programs or intervention strategies without a copay.

Source: LA Times

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