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Providing a proactive approach to diabetes

Georgette Sarkela, Roberta Mudek and Corinne Scott (left to right) completed the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in 2016. They lost a combined total of more than 100 pounds. Seven free DPP classes are starting around the region in January. (Photo submitted)1 / 2
Corinne Scott and Roberta Mudek, center, graduates of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), speak at a lifestyle coach training last January. DPP classes are led by certified lifestyle coaches, and are proven to help participants reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Seven free classes are starting around the region in January. (Photo submitted)2 / 2

When Corinne Scott saw a notice in the newspaper for a class to help people with prediabetes make lifestyle changes, she jumped at the opportunity.

"It was just what I needed. I was labeled as prediabetic by my doctor and I wanted to do what I could to turn it around," Scott said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 3 Americans has prediabetes, and most don't know it. Prediabetes occurs when blood sugar (glucose) levels are higher than normal, but not high enough to be diabetes. Fifteen to 30 percent of those cases progress to type 2 diabetes within five years.

"As a nation, we're seeing the rate of diabetes skyrocket," said Kim Matteen, regional community wellness grant and lifestyle change coordinator at Healthy Northland. "And many people at risk for developing diabetes sometimes think there's nothing they can do to prevent it. That's not just not true."

Making healthy lifestyle changes can prevent diabetes and the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) has been proven by a national research study to help people make those changes.

Scott joined the Diabetes Prevention Program at the Duluth YMCA. The DPP is a one-year program where participants meet once a week for 16 weeks, then once a month for the remainder of the year.

Participants learn how to eat healthy, be more active, manage stress and stay motivated. Led by a trained lifestyle coach, participants learn with others in the program to gain the skills needed to make lasting changes.

"It's a great place to find encouragement and to problem solve any challenges you find yourself having," said Alisha Bradley, health and wellness coordinator at the Duluth YMCA and trained lifestyle coach. "It's not a class where we sit and lecture you all the time. It's a friendly space."

The classes range in size from 8 to 16 participants in order to encourage conversation based learning.

"We'd talk about our challenges and share healthy recipes. The camaraderie and accountability was what made it so great," Scott said.

Scott made a few friends in the class who she still meets with twice a month even though the class ended in early 2016.

"We call ourselves 'Mondays at 9' because that's when we meet for coffee at McDonald's. We keep each other on track and spend time together," Scott said.

Scott lost 52 pounds through her year on the plan. She learned how to count fat grams and to make better food choices. But the biggest change/challenge for Scott was incorporating more exercise into her life. Studies have repeatedly shown that moderate physical activity, walking, swimming, mowing the lawn, for as little as 30 minutes, five days a week can help improve blood pressure, raise good cholesterol and prevent blood flow problems.

"I started walking whenever I could. I was walking about 2 miles three or four times a week during the summer. It really made a difference," Scott said.

Over the course of the year, Scott managed to lose a little over 7 percent of her body weight and her blood sugar dropped enough that she is no longer considered prediabetic.

"I have so much more energy and it's positively affected my attitude. It feels better to do things, even simple things like going to a movie. I feel more comfortable now. Especially when shopping for clothes," Scott said.

Those that are over the age of 45, overweight, physically active fewer than three times per week or have a family history of type 2 diabetes are at risk for prediabetes. Take the quiz at or talk to your doctor to find out if you have prediabetes.

To those at risk but unsure about joining the class, Matteen encourages individuals to put their individual health first.

"If you are at risk, you need to be honest with yourself. If you're not ready right now, when will you be? If you wait too long, it might be too late," Matteen said. "I understand time constraints, but when it comes to your health, you have to prioritize it."

The DPP class, normally $429, is being offered free of charge by the Duluth Area Family YMCA, Superior Douglas County Family YMCA and Proctor Hermantown Community Education, with support from Essentia Health, U of MN Extension, Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative, Gary New Duluth Recreation Center, Healthy Northland, the Minnesota Department of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Diabetes Prevention Program dates and locations


• Mondays beginning Jan. 9, 1-2 p.m. at Downtown Duluth YMCA

• Wednesdays beginning Jan. 11, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Harbor Highlands Community Center

• Wednesdays beginning Jan. 18, 4:30-5:30 p.m. at Lincoln Park Children and Families Collaborative

• Tuesdays beginning Jan. 31, 6-7 p.m. at Gary New Duluth Recreation Center

To register, visit or contact Alisha Bradley at (218) 722-4745 ext. 135 or


• Thursdays beginning Jan. 19, Noon at the Proctor Community Center. To register contact Kaisha Graham, U of MN Extension SNAP-Ed Educator, (218) 726-6478 or


• Tuesdays, beginning Jan. 10, 11:30-12:30 at the Superior YMCA

• Wednesday, beginning Jan. 11, 5:30-6:30 at the Superior Chamber of Commerce office

To register contact Cathi Austin, (715) 392-5611 or

Teri Cadeau

Teri Cadeau is a reporter for the Budgeteer.

(218) 720-4176