SitNews - Stories in the News - Ketchikan, Alaska

Diabetes Prevention Program Graduates Second Class


September 04, 2012

(SitNews) Ketchikan, Alaska - Ketchikan Indian Community Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) recently wrapped up a second 16 class session with nine participants.  The class is funded through the Special Diabetes Program for Indians (SDPI) initially authorized by Congress in 1997. The program, which concentrates on treatment of those with diabetes and prevention for pre-diabetics, is set to expire in 2013 unless re-authorized before then. 

jpg Diabetes Prevention Program Graduates Second Class

Back Row Left to Right:  Bill Hardy, Behavioral Health Director/Health Educator; Shirley Snook, Becky Wagenius, C.J. Seludo class members; Helene Simpson, Program Recuiter; Merle Hawkins, class member; Leslie Wheeless Diabetes Program Director.  Front Row Left to Right:  Martin Smith, Dietician/Health Educator; Brehanna Johnson, Lifestyle Coach; Not pictured:  Rebecca Magee, Pharmacist/Health Educator
Photograph courtesy of KIC

American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest rate of type 2 diabetes in the nation.  Since the program’s inception in 1997 through 2011 remarkable achievements have been made.  The mean blood sugar level (A1C) has decreased to 8% in 2011 from 9% in 1996.  This translates into a 40% reduction in diabetes related complications. 

With budget deficits and a bulging federal debt there is mounting pressure to justify government funded programs.  Clearly SDPI is having a profound and positive effect on KIC members participating in the program.  Renewal of funding makes sense; an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

The DPP’s first 16 class session resulted in 9 participants losing a cumulative 101 pounds with one person losing over 28 pounds.  The recently concluded session achieved good results as well.  A total of nearly 98 pounds was lost by nine participants with the largest weight loss of nearly 32 pounds.  The age range is impressive; the youngest class member is 23 and the oldest is 81. 

Judging from all of the smiles witnessed at the graduation ceremonies for the 2nd session, learning to control portion sizes, losing weight and reacquainting oneself with the benefits of even moderate exercise and lifestyle changes you wouldn’t think losing a little weight could be so much fun!  But it was.  Becky Wagenius, one of the class members said, “I really enjoyed this class and would highly recommend it to others.  It’s a lifestyle change.  Every time I go to put something in my mouth I think about calories, fat grams and portion control and if I really need it.  I enjoyed the instructors and other class members—it was a lot of fun.  I want to send out a big thank you to everyone!”

According to the American Diabetes Association and the National Indian Health Board, diabetes is affecting young people at an alarming rate.  Since 1990, American Indians and Alaska Natives aged 25-34 have seen a 161% increase of diabetes; similar increases have been noted in even younger age groups:  20-24 a 72% increase; 15-19 a 110% increase.  If nothing is done, the likely outcome is a severe strain on medical care costs going forward not to mention the physical difficulties. 

There is help for Ketchikan Indian Community members that are either pre-diabetic or already have the disease through the SDPI.  If you’re pre-diabetic, which can be determined with a simple blood test, you can prevent the onset of disease with simple lifestyle changes.  Eating healthy and increasing physical activity are two primary components of the DPP program. 

Graduation ceremonies for the second class were held on July 26th at the KIC Clinic.  This first graduation class, also with nine members, experienced similar success. 


Edited by Mary Kauffman, SitNews

Source of News: 

Ketchikan Indian Community


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