WACO, Texas — According to the YMCA, 86 million Americans age 20 and older have prediabetes, but only 10% of them know they have it.
The disease can take a toll on families and individuals in the Waco community, which is why the Diabetes Prevention Program at the YMCA of Central Texas is pushing to lower those numbers.
The program helps people who have been diagnosed with prediabetes or those who have a family history with the disease reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Prediabetes is a serious health condition, where blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but not high enough yet to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes. According to the YMCA, 15% to 30% of people with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years.
The one-year program is designed to enable adults to make lifestyle changes that will improve their overall health.
"One of the main things we do to help a person reduce their risk is to lower their body percent by 7 percent. That’s one of their main goals,” said program director Crystal Hernandez. “Some of them reach that and they continue to reduce their body weight even more, and then increase their physical activity to 150 minutes or more per week.
Vicky Cohen is a participant of the program. She said she has even had family members die from the disease.
"I am the only biological member of my family that has not developed diabetes," Cohen said. "I don't want to injections or be on medications or anything like that. I had to do something."
Kathy Stanley said she knows people who are diabetic, so that motivated her to join the program. She said she eats healthier now because of the program.
"I would encourage anybody who has any concerns at all about getting diabetes or thinking they are at risk," Stanley said. "This is the program to try."
According to Waco's Health Department, 23% of households have a family member living with diabetes. That's up from 18% in 2010.
Both Cohen and Stanley said they're encouraging other to join the program.
"Whatever little bit you can do to lower those numbers," Cohen said. "My doctor is thrilled now. It can make a big difference in the quality of your life to come."
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