Space available for diabetes prevention classes starting March 7

Layla Noordhof, RD, and Laura Rush, RN, will lead a Diabetes Prevention Program class beginning March 7 at Spectrum Health Big Rapids Hospital in Big Rapids. (Courtesy photo)

Submitted to the Pioneer

BIG RAPIDS — The first of two free Diabetes Prevention Programs offered at Spectrum Health Big Rapids and Reed City Hospitals begins March 7 in Big Rapids.

While dozens of people at risk for developing type 2 diabetes have already signed up, there are still openings available for the Big Rapids sessions, and for the identical series that starts in Reed City in May.

Those interested are encouraged to call the diabetes education department at (231) 832-6636.

The classes are conducted by diabetes educators Laura Rush, RN, and Layla Noordhof, RD. The free classes offer 16 weekly sessions where participants will learn to adjust their lifestyle through weight loss, diet, exercise and other techniques. The program has proven effective in eliminating or delaying the onset of type 2 diabetes.

“We are reaching out through public information and area medical offices to those at risk for developing type 2 diabetes,” Rush said. “These are people whose blood sugar levels are higher than normal but not yet in the clinical diabetes range.”

“We also have programs for those already diagnosed with diabetes but this prevention program is specifically for those who have not been diagnosed, but are at significant risk,” Noordhof added. “These people are typically not aware they have prediabetes, as there are no obvious symptoms for this widespread and growing medical condition.”

A simple screening blood glucose (sugar) test can be an important step in determining whether a person has prediabetes, said Rush and Noordhof. However, there also are common risk factors that serve as warning signs, such as being overweight.

“We urge people to contact us to discuss their risk factors and determine if the Diabetes Prevention Program is right for them. We also welcome contacts from family members and friends of those who may benefit from the program,” Rush said.

The Diabetes Prevention Program Spectrum Health offers is accredited by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and is intended to empower those at risk for type 2 diabetes to take charge of their health and well-being.

Participants meet in groups with trained lifestyle coaches, such as Noordhof and Rush, to learn ways to incorporate healthier eating and moderate physical activity, as well as problem-solving, stress-reduction, and coping skills, into their daily lives. Groups meet for a year — weekly for the first 16 sessions, then monthly for 6 to 8 months to maintain the skills they have learned.

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