Diabetes Prevention Program helps employees gain support to improve health

Emory Report | Dec. 12, 2019

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Employee Thomas George is thankful for the education and support he received through Emory’s Diabetes Prevention Program. A new cohort for the year-long program will be forming in early 2020.

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Diabetes has profound effects on those who are diagnosed and their families. One way Emory supports employees who have prediabetes or are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes is through the Diabetes Prevention Program. The DPP is a one-year, small group program that teaches participants how to eat healthy, increase physical activity and manage stress in order to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. 

Emory provides the DPP to employees at a variety of sites across Emory University and Emory Healthcare. The program consists of hour-long classes over the course of 12 months. In addition, Emory offers medical plan incentives to eligible employees who participate.

Kathy Butts Arnold, research administrator, post-award III, received a referral to the DPP by her primary care physician. “The content of the curriculum is excellent,” she says. “Our lifestyle coach, Sarah Piper, keeps the group informed and on track. Sarah’s feedback on my food tracking was very encouraging and extremely helpful.”

“As a lifestyle coach, I am the guide on the side,” explains Piper, director of training with the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center of Rollins School of Public Health. “I’m asking questions and helping the group build a positive, safe environment where they can share strategies and offer support to one another on their lifestyle change journeys.”

The positive environment is an important component in participants’ success.

“The classes focus on important knowledge and skills to make improvements in nutrition and physical activity with the goal of losing weight,” says Michael Staufacker, director, health management. “The social support that develops among program participants is another key factor for success. And Emory’s well-trained and experienced facilitators guide participants through the sometimes-difficult health behavior changes throughout the program.”

Thomas George, director of employee relations, central HR administration, agrees. “Here is a program that has my best interests at heart, with a facilitator who is truly special. Sarah is friendly, non-judgmental and a human being with a huge heart.” 

“The DPP offers like-minded souls the ability to freely share our successes and struggles as we strive for a better and balanced lifestyle,” George adds. “Being accepted into the DPP was like winning the lottery. While I may not look like George Clooney by the end of the DPP, I will certainly be a better looking me.”

Other wellness resources through Emory helped some participants get even more from the DPP. For example, digital content analyst Fred Spring has used the Healthy Emory Connect app to track his daily habits. 

“I've used Healthy Emory Connect to become informed about programs like DPP,” Spring says. “Once I learned that I may be at risk for diabetes, I went to a free DPP class at Emory Saint Joseph's Hospital. I made immediate changes to my nutritional lifestyle. I've dropped sugar, grains and dairy from my daily diet and after 14 days noticed considerable changes to my health. I'm moving in the right direction thanks to Healthy Emory Connect.”

A new cohort of DPP classes will start in February 2020, with information sessions offered in January. Employees can complete the interest form found on the DPP web page to be considered for a future program cohort. 

For more information about the Diabetes Prevention Program and Healthy Emory Connect, visit Emory’s wellness web page.