AMA Urges More St. Petersburg Area Physicians to Join Pilot Program
ST. PETERSBURG, FL (October 2, 2014) — The American Medical Association (AMA) is encouraging St. Petersburg area physicians to participate in a new pilot program aimed at helping their patients prevent type 2 diabetes. As part of the pilot program, physicians would agree to screen patients for prediabetes and refer eligible patients to participate in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program offered by the YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg.
"More than one out of every three American adults has prediabetes and only about 11 percent are even aware that they are at risk of developing type 2 diabetes. This is why the AMA is committed to raising awareness about prediabetes and ensuring patients at greatest risk are referred to proven diabetes prevention programs to help them prevent or delay diabetes," said Robert M. Wah, M.D., president of the American Medical Association. "Type 2 diabetes is also one of the key drivers of soaring healthcare costs, and the American Medical Association is partnering with YMCA branches in Florida and elsewhere to improve health outcomes of local residents through better prevention, thereby contributing to reduced healthcare costs for this disease."
The Pinellas County Medical Association has been instrumental in helping the AMA launch this grassroots effort. The organizations believe that their efforts will significantly impact Pinellas County residents, where an estimated 251,000 or one-third of the adult population has prediabetes. Individuals with prediabetes have higher than normal blood glucose levels but not high enough to be considered type 2 diabetes. However, those with prediabetes are at greater risk for heart disease and stroke, and are much more likely to develop type 2 diabetes, unless they take steps to prevent or delay its onset by making important lifestyle changes such as increased physical activity and moderate weight loss.
The YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program is modeled after the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) National Diabetes Prevention Program that provides participants with 16 weeks of core education on healthy eating and physical activity from a trained lifestyle coach as well as peer and goal-setting support. Following the initial sessions, participants meet monthly for up to a year to monitor their progress. The program is based on research funded by the National Institutes of Health which has shown, among adults with prediabetes, a 58 percent reduction in the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes, and a 71 percent reduction in new cases among those over age 60.
Last year, the national average weight loss of participants of the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program across the country was 6 percent, which significantly reduced their risk for developing type 2 diabetes. Research shows that a weight loss of between 5 to 7 percent can lower the risk of developing the disease. To date, more than 650 participants have enrolled in the program in Pinellas County. Another added benefit is that Pinellas County area residents age 65 and older can participate in the program free of charge.
"Our Y has been working tirelessly for nearly a century to improve the health and well-being of our local community. As health care is increasingly shifting its focus from disease treatment and management towards healthy living as a tool for chronic disease prevention - no other organization is poised quite like the Y to provide the expertise and infrastructure to effect lasting change on a much larger scale," said David Jezek, CEO, YMCA of Greater St. Petersburg. "Partnerships such as this are a shining example of how healthcare providers and community-based agencies can work together to make radical extensions in the continuum of care from prevention, to intervention, to managed care - achieving profound changes on population health."
Physician referral is not a requirement to participate in the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program (any adult with prediabetes can participate). However, the AMA is working to increase the number of patients who benefit from proven diabetes prevention programs like the ones offered in Pinellas County by raising awareness and closing the gaps that exist in getting patients enrolled in communities across the country.
"Through the AMA's work in bringing together physicians, academia, government agencies, businesses, health advocacy groups, and community-based organizations, we are developing the most effective ways to prevent disease and improve outcomes and to spread the findings nationally in ways that reduce the burdens of illness and the associated cost to our nation," Dr. Wah Said.
To establish a streamlined referral process to the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program, St. Petersburg area physicians are working with the AMA to:
"The Pinellas County Medical Association has been honored to work with our county YMCA and the AMA on a pilot program to educate the medical community and the public on diabetes prevention. We have already had an overwhelming response from our physician members on getting the message out to our community and their patients," said Miguel Faña Jr., M.D., president, Pinellas County Medical Association. "The increase in obesity and diabetes is staggering in the last 30 years with Americans on average consuming about 300 more calories per day and decreasing their activity level by about 200 calories per day. We commend the AMA for taking on this public health epidemic and look forward to seeing a more health conscious country as a result."
St. Petersburg is one of five locations where the AMA is partnering with the YMCA to increase the number of physicians screening for prediabetes and referring at-risk patients to local diabetes prevention programs, including sites in Venice, FL, Wilmington, DE, Indianapolis, IN, and Minneapolis/St. Paul, MN.