woman picking tomatoesIn the United States, 29 million Americans have diabetes and 86 million Americans have prediabetes, a blood condition where your blood sugar level is higher than it should be and you’re at risk of developing diabetes. Prediabetes also increases your risk of heart disease and stroke. In the average primary care practice, it is likely that one-third of patients over age 18, and half of those over age 65 have prediabetes.

According to the CDC, without healthy lifestyle changes, 15-30% of the 86 million Americans with prediabetes will develop type 2 diabetes within 5 years. Prediabetes is treatable with currently available resources like the Diabetes Prevention Program. The Diabetes Prevention Program helps adults at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles by eating healthier, increasing physical activity and losing a modest amount of weight in order to reduce their chances of developing the disease.

In an exciting shift from mainly covering treatment when people are sick, to paying to try to keep them healthy, Medicare has announced that starting January 1, 2018 it will cover the Diabetes Prevention Program for people diagnosed with prediabetes.

The Diabetes Prevention program (valued at $429 in other states) is available for free throughout Vermont as one of our free self-management support programs. That’s great news for the 27,000 Vermonters diagnosed with prediabetes and the additional 243,000 who may have prediabetes and not even know it.

This fall, Vermont primary care clinics were provided the “Preventing Type 2 Diabetes” guide from the Health Department and Vermont Blueprint for Health. This guide helps practice teams prevent diabetes by linking their patients to free, evidence-based diabetes prevention programs in Vermont. Download the toolkit from the Vermont Department of Health.

Enroll in a Diabetes Prevention Program

Robyn Skiff is a medical home coordinator in the community health improvement program at the University of Vermont Medical Center. 

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