YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program

Forming healthy habits can be hard without a support system. We're here to give you the encouragement you need to eat better, increase your physical activity and lose weight — all of which can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Learn more about our Diabetes Prevention Program, available at more than 200 Ys across the country.

YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program

What is Diabetes?

Diabetes is a chronic disease that causes blood sugar levels to rise higher than normal. It affects more than 37 million people in the U.S., and 1 in 4 don't even know they have it. Although diabetes has no cure, prediabetes can be reversed. It's important to know if you have prediabetes so you can prevent it from escalating. Chances are you know at least one person with diabetes or prediabetes. Take this quick test offered by the CDC, then share the test with friends and family so they can assess their risk


  • 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes

  • 96 million People in the U.S. have prediabetes—but 8 out of 10 of them do not know they have it.

  • 8th leading cause of death Diabetes is the eighth leading cause of death in the United States

  • 2x Diabetes disproportionately affects Black and Latino people. Due to systemic health inequities, they are nearly two times more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes.

  • 4.6 fewer years Adults 50 or older with diabetes die 4.6 years earlier

  • 2.3x Medical expenses for people with diabetes are 2.3 times greater than those without

The Good News

If you believe you are at risk for developing diabetes, there is something you can do about it. People with prediabetes who make the kinds of basic lifestyle changes the YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program suggests—modest weight loss, eating healthy and regular physical activity—have been shown to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

The Y Can Help

If you find out that you or someone you know is at risk for developing diabetes, our YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program can help. Find out if a Y near you offers the program.

Some health plans have contracted with local Ys to cover the cost of the program. Please contact your health insurance provider to ask whether the program is covered for you.

For Health Professionals

Allow our program to help you help your patients. Based on research from the National Institutes of Health, programs like YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program reduces new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58% overall and 71% in individuals over age 60.

Our year-long program engages participants in 25 sessions and focuses on small, measurable lifestyle goals. With group support and instruction from Lifestyle Coaches, participants learn how to incorporate healthier eating, physical activity, problem-solving and coping skills into their daily lives. The curriculum is CDC-approved and is part of the CDC-led National Diabetes Prevention Program.

Referring a patient is simple: Ask your Y if the program is available there, and the staff will provide information and a form for patient referrals.

Learn more about the program here.

Medical Professionals

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  • Medical Professionals

The Results of our Program

  • 94%

    of participants say they have reduced their portion size

  • 83%

    say they have improved their self-esteem

  • 88%

    say they have increased their level of physical activity

  • 91%

    say they have improved their overall health

Meet David H. from the YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities


Meet David H. from the YMCA of the North

David lost 12.4% of his body weight and went down two sizes.

"After a blood test, my doctor said I was in the prediabetes range and really stressed [diabetes] is a route I don’t want to go. It really didn’t sink in at first.

My mother-in-law had diabetes and I have friends with diabetes, so I’ve seen how hard it can be to live with it.

[The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program] was very thorough and progressive. Each session gave a little different aspect, and eventually you put it all together. I really liked how it all fit together: the way you eat, the physical activity, managing stress—it all matters.

I didn’t realize how poorly I was eating until I started logging my food and counting fat grams. For the first time, I recognized I really needed to change the way I was eating.

My wife wasn’t in the group, but she was really doing the program (in the background) with me, and we worked on it together. We find substitutions for foods we liked that still satisfy us. We have more energy, feel better, and gradually started exercising by walking together. I am down two sizes!

My wife and I made the commitment to do this, and I can’t believe how well it’s gone. My doctor was really impressed with the changes I’ve made; my most recent blood test showed I was in the normal range.

I have to stay committed to this way of life and the change I’ve made. It doesn’t mean I can’t have pizza every once in a while, but I can’t have pizza every day.

My wife and I feel that we need to do this. We don’t want to go back to how it was before. We’ve made a lot of changes, and it’s had a huge positive impact on us and the people in our life."

Learn More About YMCA of the Greater Twin Cities


Meet Jeanne C. from the Eugene Family YMCA

Jeanne lost 18% of her body weight, and her A1c is back in the normal range. In addition, Jeanne’s blood pressure and cholesterol are now in the normal range, and her doctor has taken her off medications for these conditions.

"The program has taught us to make reasonable lifestyle changes to prevent or delay the onset of diabetes, and this next phase— LIFE—will be an ongoing test of everything we’ve learned during this year together and a challenge to stay focused on our health goals. Always.

I know that we will all stay in contact, because we’ve created a strong bond that goes well beyond a weekly or monthly meeting.

I use my old (food and activity) trackers to plan healthy menu ideas and create my weekly grocery list. Of course, there are some pages that are shameful, but life isn’t perfect. And when I look at the page where I slipped and lost control at the all-you-can-eat buffet, I turn the page and see how I got back on my feet and ate healthy the rest of the week.

I was a perfectionist and was very hard on myself whenever I made mistake. I am gentler with myself now; I avoid the negative self-talk, and if I slip, I get up, brush myself off, turn the tracker page (of life) and keep going.

Moving forward, sometimes slowly, other times faster, but always moving forward. Because I can, and will, take control of my health.

Now, I can’t imagine life without exercising, and I enjoy the energy I feel with a good workout and the challenge of trying new physical activities.

Show up to class. Keep in touch with your coach and fellow participants, and when you slip, get up, write it down in your tracker, then TURN THE PAGE and keep going.

You can do it! I hope it will be a long and healthy road."

Learn More About Eugene Family YMCA

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