SIOUX CENTER—A special program taking aim at preventing type 2 diabetes will be held on Thursdays starting Oct. 3. An informational session is scheduled for 7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26.

The program, called Prevent Diabetes NW Iowa, will be led by trained lifestyle coaches who will help participants lose weight, eat healthier, be more physically active and manage their stress levels.

It’s especially recommended for those who are overweight, have pre-diabetes, have had gestational diabetes or have a family history of diabetes.

According to Sioux Center Health registered nurse Judy Hauswald, this kind of program is an important response to the epidemic levels of type 2 diabetes and pre-diabetes seen across the nation.

“It’s estimated that one in three adult Americans has pre-diabetes,” Hauswald said. “That means their blood sugars are not high enough to fall into the diabetes range yet, but they are at very high risk of developing type 2 diabetes within a few short years if they don’t make some changes in their lifestyles.”

So, the goal of the program, which began in 2016, is prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes.

Type 2 diabetes brings about the chance of developing any number of harmful problems.

High blood sugar levels over time can lead to increased risks of heart attacks or strokes, kidney problems, including kidney failure, blindness, circulation and feeling issues in legs and feet that can lead to amputations, among other issues.

“It can cause some serious health problems,” she said. “The good news is that if a person knows they have pre-diabetes, they can get their blood sugars back in the normal range and that’s the focus of our program, helping people become more active and focus on 5-7 percent weight loss.”

Research shows that losing that bit of weight is all it can take to start reversing blood sugar issues.

“A person might need to lose 50 pounds to be healthy, but even losing that first 10-15 pounds can make a difference in their blood sugar numbers,” Hauswald said.

What’s problematic is that pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes are known as silent diseases. That is, people with those conditions can be living seemingly normal lives without knowing it.

Testing blood is the key to diagnosing pre-diabetes and type 2 diabetes.

Hauswald said the tests are a simple and affordable process.

“They can come to the Sioux Center hospital lab Monday-Friday, between 7 and 11 in the morning,” she said. “They just need to self-pay $20 to get the test. The results are mailed to them directly and they can share that result with their health care provider.”

It also can be done during a doctor’s appointment when requested.

The meetings will be held at the Sioux Center Health conference room 1. The program will last for 22 sessions over the span of 12 months.

For the first three months, the classes are held weekly. The following three months, the classes switch to every other week. In the last six months, classes are held once a month.

The reason the program lasts that long, Hauswald said, is because they want the changes that come through the program to become a part of the person’s everyday life.

“A lot of times, people are successful for the first few months, but it’s easy to kind of relapse or feel like giving up,” she said.

People find encouragement through the group support that comes with the program and that plays no small part in people’s success.

“Gaining knowledge and understanding things is important, but even more important is the ongoing support,” she said.

Each class lasts for about an hour. Participants are asked to come in a few minutes before class so they can be weighed. For the first few months, people are encouraged to keep food and exercise records.

“We use that to help teach them about what they’re eating and doing for activities and help them make better choices or smaller portion sizes or different kinds of activities they might not have thought of,” Hauswald said.

It’s an affordable health program, too. It costs $175 initially, but participants can earn back $75 for regular attendance.

“If the cost is a barrier for people, they should let us know. We can see if we can find some sponsors or something like that,” Hauswald said.

To register or for more information visit www.preventdiabetesnwiowa.org or call 712-737-2971.

Among the program’s sponsors are Sioux Center Health, Orange City Area Health System, Hegg Health Center, Sioux County Community Health Partners and Hawarden Regional Healthcare.

Carol Borchard, a 56-year-old Orange City resident, participated in the Sioux Center classes a few years ago.

Having been adopted as a child, she isn’t sure of her medical history. In that way, she took the approach of better safe than sorry. Plus, she said that since she is overweight, the classes would at least provide her with an avenue to live a healthier life.

“I want to do what I can to live as long of a life as the Lord allows,” Borchard said.

Even though Borchard did not have diabetes or pre-diabetes when she began the program, she has seen firsthand how diabetes can harm people.

“In my adoptive extended family, I had an uncle and a cousin who had to have amputations and ended up dying because of diabetes,” Borchard said. “I continually thought that that was something I didn’t want to ever have happen to me.”

She didn’t want to even get to the point where she’d have pre-diabetes.

After joining, she stuck through the entire program. Doing that wasn’t much of a challenge, she said, because it was always something she looked forward to. The company was good, as was the information and lessons.

“It was great,” Borchard said. “I liked that they had a variety of instructors. Each week, it’d be a variety of different health educators, whether it’d be a licensed nutritionist or a registered nurse that was a diabetes specialist or a fitness person. There were so many different professionals there presenting professional information. That’s what I appreciated.”

Her health improved thanks to these classes, she said. Her heart rate decreased, as did her blood pressure.

“I definitely felt a lot better,” Borchard said, “and I continue to think about my food choices and activity levels.”