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Sen. Al Franken Visits WSCHS’ Diabetes Prevention Program (Feb. 17th, 2010)

On February 17th, West Side Community Health Services welcomed Senator Al Franken to La Clinica for a visit to learn more about West Side’s innovative I CAN Prevent Diabetes Program.

After a brief presentation by Registered Dietitian Arlene Becker and a discussion with staff, Sen. Franken joined an I CAN Prevent Diabetes class in session at La Clinica and asked questions of the participants.

During this visit, Sen. Franken learned that West Side’s diabetes prevention program was the first of its kind in Minnesota tailored for Spanish-speakers. Participants attend a 16-week class in which groups meet with trained facilitators (Arlene Becker, RDLD and Sara Hyland, RN, CDE) once a week to help lose weight, eat healthier foods and increase physical activity. On average, participants lose 7% of their original weight to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes and gain additional health benefits. Studies show that for every kilo (2.2 pounds) of weight loss there is a 13% drop in risk for diabetes, and that more than half of new Type 2 diabetes cases can be avoided by weight loss of just 11 to 15 pounds.

West Side is currently seeking additional funding to expand the popular program to serve Hmong patients, as well as other diverse patient populations. The program is based on the Diabetes Prevention Program, which a national study found changed lifestyle habits (diet and exercise) that can reduce the risk of developing diabetes by 58%, compared with a 31% reduction for those on standard drug treatment (Metformin). The program is adapted for group delivery to be taught by trained lifestyle coaches.

In November, Sen. Franken (D-Minn.) and Sen. Richard Lugar (R-Ind.) introduced the Diabetes Prevention Act of 2009, which would provide funding for a national program to train and certify community programs to conduct Diabetes Prevention Programs like West Side’s.

Studies sponsored by the National Institutes of Health have shown that participating in structured lifestyle intervention programs like West Side’s can help pre-diabetics make enduring changes to exercise and diet, reducing their risk of developing diabetes by nearly 60 percent – at an annual cost of less than $300.

For more information about West Side’s Diabetes Prevention I CAN Prevent Diabetes classes, call (651) 389-2456.

Please click here to view a photo of Sen. Franken and WSCHS’ Registered Dietitian Arlene Becker.




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