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Essentia Health-St. Mary’s sets diabetes prevention program

Detroit Lakes-area residents can participate in the I Can Prevent Diabetes Program offered at no charge through Essentia Health.

The lifestyle change program starts March 12 and includes education and support for people with pre-diabetes and those at a high risk for pre-diabetes.

About 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes, which means their blood sugar levels are higher than normal, but aren’t high enough yet to be diagnosed with diabetes.

Studies show people with pre-diabetes can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by simply improving their diet and exercise. Losing just 5 to 7 percent of their body weight can reduce their risk of diabetes by almost 60 percent.

“This initiative gives Essentia Health another way to keep the communities it serves healthy,” explains Dr. Sara Hendrickson, a community health specialist from the Essentia Institute of Rural Health (EIRH).

She’s helping to oversee these prevention programs across the organization.

“By reducing the chances of developing type 2 diabetes among high-risk individuals, Essentia Health is working to prevent disease rather than just treat it,” she says.

The 24-session I Can Prevent Diabetes Program was created by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Participants will meet with an instructor once each week for 16 weeks, followed by eight monthly sessions. The classes address ways to eat healthier, increase physical activity and lose weight.

Community members are eligible if they are at least 18 years old, are overweight, do not currently have diabetes and aren’t pregnant. They don’t need to be Essentia Health patients.

It’s important for participants to check with their healthcare provider to find out if they have pre-diabetes and if they are healthy enough for moderate exercise, such as walking.

This free program is part of Essentia’s efforts to build healthier communities. Last year, Essentia conducted assessments to identify health needs in 16 communities where Essentia has hospitals. Then the organization hosted a series of town hall meetings to discuss ways to address those needs.

Essentia Health St. Mary’s is coordinating its no-cost diabetes prevention program starting Wednesday, March 12, at 6 p.m. in the EMS conference rooms. To find out more about participating and to sign up, call 218-639-9583 or e-mail