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YMCA of Metropolitan Washington helping people combat diabetes

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WJAC is working in partnership with our parent company, Sinclair Broadcast Group, to keep you informed about important health matters.

Eighty-six million Americans have prediabetes. That's one out of every three adults.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is partnering with organizations nationwide to tackle this issue with diabetes-prevention programs.

Michael Fields is exercising more since receiving a daunting diagnosis.

"My doctor just advised me that I needed to start changing my lifestyle, like, I was prediabetic,” Fields said.

He also signed up for the YMCA's diabetes-prevention program. It's for prediabetics, who are one step shy of developing Type 2 diabetes.

"It's a 25-class support group, and we talk about various things, from healthy eating, eating out, counting your fat grams to stress levels," said Heather Wilson, the associate director of community health at the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington.

The CDC-approved curriculum has two main goals: increase exercise to 150 minutes per week and reduce body weight by 5-7 percent.

Since starting the program, Nancy Shia said she's more aware of what she eats.

"Focusing on what you're eating is the most important thing, where you know how many calories you're taking in," Shia said.

And she's getting results.

"The biggest result that I've found is in my blood pressure,” Shia said. “After starting to lose about 5 pounds, it started to become normal, and it's pretty normal now."

Research done by the National Institutes of Health found this program can reduce new cases of Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent, and by 71 percent in people over age 60.

"You do not want to rest on this,” Dr. Marilyn McPherson Corder said. “You want to make sure you turn it around because very soon, and we don't know when, you will begin to have the symptoms as well as begin to have diabetes."

But 90 percent of people with prediabetes don't know they have it. So when you visit the doctor, be your own advocate.

"The patient should always ask, ‘What are my numbers?’ Because prediabetes is asymptomatic, meaning you have no symptoms," said Michelle Katz, a health care consumer advocate.

Fields is now motivated to take control of his health and encourages others to do the same.

"If you have time to reverse diabetes or prediabetes, why not take it full forward and do it?" Fields said.

Medical treatments for Type 2 diabetes typically cost about $650 a month. This YMCA's nationwide program costs $36 a month.

Some insurance policies cover it, and the Y said Medicare is expected to start covering it in 2018 too.

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