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NMSU Extension program helps pre-diabetics make a lifestyle change

When Barbara Dutton?s doctor told her last January that the 157 pounds she was carrying on her slight 5-foot frame put her body mass index over the line from overweight to obese, she knew she had to take action. Her father had been diabetic, and she didn?t want Type 2 diabetes to be part of her future.

Two ladies, one standing on scale
Registered dietitian Gaby Phillips, left, a program specialist with New Mexico State University?s Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department, shows off the latest weigh-in results of Barbara Dutton, 74, a participant in the National Diabetes Prevention Program. (NMSU photo by Amanda Bradford)
Ladies seated at table
Registered dietitian Gaby Phillips, left, a program specialist with New Mexico State University?s Extension Family and Consumer Sciences department, goes over the day?s class materials with Barbara Dutton, 74, a participant in the National Diabetes Prevention Program. (NMSU photo by Amanda Bradford)

Since then, the 74-year-old retired teacher has dropped 45 pounds ? thanks, in part, to the National Diabetes Prevention Program offered by New Mexico State University?s Cooperative Extension Service, in partnership with Molina Healthcare.

Dutton is among the 7 percent of New Mexico adults 18 or older who are told by health professionals that they are pre-diabetic or are at high risk for Type 2 diabetes, according to the New Mexico Department of Health. Nationally, about 35 percent of the population has pre-diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and most of them are unaware that they have it.

Unless they make changes, the CDC estimates that 15-30 percent of people with pre-diabetes will develop full-blown diabetes within five years, leading to higher risk of stroke, kidney disease, amputation and blindness, among other health concerns.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is an evidence-based, lifestyle intervention program from the CDC, featuring a curriculum based on clinical research and presented by trained lifestyle coaches. The NMSU/Molina program began in Dona Ana and Bernalillo counties in July 2013. It?s free of charge and open to the community.

Coaches like registered dietitian Gaby Phillips, a program specialist with Extension Family and Consumer Sciences at NMSU, help participants improve their food choices, increase physical activity, and learn coping skills to maintain weight loss and healthy lifestyle changes.

?We work step by step to change their lifestyle,? Phillips said. ?With just small changes, they can see a big difference.?

The participants track what they?re eating, how much exercise they?re getting and other data.

?I think that makes them more aware,? said Lucinda Banegas-Carreon, NMSU coordinator of the program. ?Overall, besides the great benefits of weight loss, they?re learning more about how they can help themselves.?

In addition to logging information about their food and exercise choices, the program teaches strategies for facing emotional, behavioral and family challenges that can come along with changing their habits.

In addition to the Las Cruces sessions, the program is offered in Sunland Park and Albuquerque. Sessions in Spanish are available at all locations.

?The program honors and recognizes the participants? cultural diversity and humility by providing the classes in Spanish in both Albuquerque and Las Cruces,? said Sharon Notah-White, a lifestyle coach and master trainer with Molina Healthcare of New Mexico. ?The Spanish classes incorporate cultural solutions to challenges that participants face in making lifestyles changes.?

In one recent session, soft music drifted from the classroom?s speakers as Phillips went over the day?s topic.

?So, today, we?re going to talk about managing stress, and the things we can do when we?re facing stressful challenges,? Phillips told the room full of participants.

Dutton nodded. ?I?ve definitely faced some challenges lately,? she said, widening her eyes for emphasis.

Phillips went on to review strategies that the class could use to ensure that stress didn?t translate into unnecessary physical strain and empty calories.

Dutton said the group sessions often provided a needed boost for her.

?We?d talk about what we found hard, and how we overcome those challenges,? she said. ?The input from classmates was really helpful.?

Though she?s been dieting off and on most of her life, Dutton said she?s now at her most healthful weight ever.

?Going to this program has really helped me stay motivated,? she said. ?Knowing I?ll be weighing in every week helps keep me on track.?

The uplifting comments and coaching from Phillips are part of her success, too, she said.

Phillips demurred, giving credit to Dutton, instead.

?You?ve worked hard on this,? Phillips said. ?I?m proud of what you?ve accomplished.?

The next session in Las Cruces begins Jan. 21, 2015, and space is available. Sessions will begin in Sunland Park Feb. 23 and in Albuquerque Jan. 26. For more information on participating in any of these sessions, contact Banegas-Carreon at lubanega@nmsu.edu or 575-646-2034.

To qualify for the program, the participants must be at least 18 years old, be overweight, and meet one or more of the following criteria:

? Fasting blood glucose 100 to 125 mg/dl
? Two-hour glucose range 140 to 199 mg/dl
? HbA1c between 5.7 and 6.4
? History of gestational diabetes.

The National Diabetes Prevention Program is part of a cooperative agreement between CDC and the America?s Health Insurance Plans. AHIP is working with three member health plans ? Molina Healthcare, EmblemHealth and Florida Blue ? to implement the program in New Mexico, California, Florida and New York.

For more information about the National Diabetes Prevention Plan, visit www.cdc.gov/diabetes/prevention.


Additional food and nutrition programs at NMSU
- Kitchen Creations: http://efcs.nmsu.edu/kitchencreations.html
- Pathways to Better Health: Contact Lourdes Olivas at loumunoz@nmsu.edu or 575-646-5763
- Fit Families: http://efcs.nmsu.edu/fit-families.html