UCLA Health's Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) is launching a year-long initiative promoting lifestyle changes for individuals with prediabetes across the UCLA campus, making the university one of the first in the country to offer diabetes prevention campuswide. Over the coming months, the program will begin recruiting participants who are at risk of developing diabetes.

Prediabetes occurs when blood glucose — sugar— levels are higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. A recent UCLA study found that a majority of California adults have prediabetes or diabetes. While a prediabetes diagnosis indicates a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, not all pre-diabetics progress to diabetes. Lifestyle changes — even small ones — are critical in reducing diabetes risk.

A large, multi-year study concluded that participants with prediabetes were able to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes after completing the Diabetes Prevention Program, developed by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

“The thought of lifestyle changes can seem very intimidating to many people,” says Dr. Carol Mangione, co-founder of the DPP at UCLA. “However, studies have proven that changes do not need to be drastic. Even losing as little as 5 percent of your total body weight can help you stay healthy longer.”

The program focuses on providing education and support services to help participants make healthier choices, eat better, become more active and ultimately reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The first six months of the program consist of weekly, small-group meetings; thereafter, the sessions are biweekly and monthly.

A critical component of the program’s success is its small, interactive group setting.

“Everyone works toward a common goal during DPP,” says Dr. Tannaz Moin, co-founder of the UCLA program. “Participants support and motivate one another and work together to come up with the ideas and solutions that will help fellow participants overcome particular problems or challenges they are facing.”

“The evidence shows that people are more likely to participate in programs like DPP if the program is held at a place they already regularly visit,” says Dr. Wendy Slusser, associate vice provost of the Healthy Campus Initiative. “Our ultimate goal is to make DPP and similar programs accessible and help participants make healthy choices.”

Over the coming months, DPP will begin recruiting participants — at-risk students, faculty, staff and patients who see a provider at the Ashe Student Medical Services or UCLA Medical Practices — through mailings and referrals. Anyone who does not receive an invitation letter or referral but is interested in participating, can talk to their UCLA primary care doctor or email DPP@recreation.ucla.edu.

Learn more at the UCLA Health Diabetes Program website.

This story was originally published in UCLA Health Employee News.