Recreation Management Rec Report - The Newsletter for Recreation, Sports & Fitness Facility Managers

Feature Story

February 2019

Guide Aims to Help Gyms Implement Diabetes Prevention

By Chandler Garland

The International Health, Racquet & Sportsclub Association (IHRSA) recently released the "How Your Club Can Leverage New Diabetes Prevention Program" briefing paper to help fitness centers understand and implement the CDC's Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). Diabetes continues to be a growing problem in the United States and it ranked as the seventh leading cause of death in the United States for 2015. There were approximately 30 million diagnosed cases of the disease as of 2015. Another 84 million have prediabetes, a condition that if not treated often leads to type 2 diabetes within five years. And only 11.6 percent of Americans with prediabetes knew they had it.

People with diabetes are at increased risk of serious health complications, including vision loss, heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, and amputation of toes, feet or legs. The American Diabetes Association (ADA) estimates that diagnosed diabetes costs $327 billion a year. One in seven healthcare dollars in the United States is spent treating diabetes and its complications.

However, type 2 diabetes is largely preventable through a healthy diet and regular exercise. This was confirmed by the results of the DPP, which began as a randomized study in 1996. For the study, the CDC randomly divided diagnosed diabetics into three groups that would undergo an intensive lifestyle change program, receive a medication, and one group that would receive neither—a control group. The trial ended early because the effects were compelling. Medication resulted in a 31 percent lower risk of developing diabetes, and the lifestyle change program resulted in a 58 percent lower risk. Older people fared even better: Those in the lifestyle change program who started after age 60 lowered their diabetes risk by 71 percent. Since then, researchers continued to follow most of the participants over the following 15 years and found the DPP Lifestyle Change program continued to be the most effective in preventing diabetes and was cost-effective after 10 years.

From this study the CDC launched a diabetes prevention program curriculum, Prevent T2, in 2016. As of 2018, Medicare, which was already reimbursing lifestyle change programs to prevent diabetes run by clinical centers, will reimburse non-clinical centers—like health clubs—that deliver CDC-recognized diabetes prevention programs. IHRSA's briefing paper is intended as a resource to help non-clinical centers best implement these programs for users. The paper includes:

  • Three ways to implement DPP
  • Checklist to build your program
  • Data security tips
  • Insight from a club implementing DPP

In the U.S., the fitness industry reaches about 18 percent of the population. When you consider that 60 percent of Americans have at least one chronic disease like diabetes, the need for more engagement with clubs is obvious. Offering medically oriented programs can be a strategy to reach more people and provide added value to current members. However, clubs that enter the medical space often struggle with establishing the credibility of their programs with health professionals. DPP programing along with the IHRSA's resource hope to address these issues to provide enriching programs proven to lower diabetes.

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