Expanding the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program Through Faith, Food, Fitness, and Healthy Lifestyles

For African Americans living with diabetes, a lifestyle change program that incorporates faith-based services and a healthier lifestyle can produce optimal results, according to presenters Magon Saunders, DHSc, MS, RDN, LD, and Susan Van Aacken, MSPP, both from the Division of Diabetes Translation, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, at AADE19 in Houston, TX.

Currently, one in three American adults has prediabetes, and almost 90% are not aware that they have it. The disease is especially prevalent among African Americans, who are more commonly affected by diabetes, stoke, and high blood pressure than whites. Programs that are tailored and culturally adapted can assist African Americans in implementing strategies to prevent type 2 diabetes, while mitigating their allostatic load, which is the growing “wear and tear” on the body as the result of chronic stress.

To combat diabetes, the Center for Disease Control (CDC) established the National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in 2010, which is a partnership of public and private organizations working in tandem “to build the infrastructure for nationwide delivery of an evidence-based lifestyle change program for adults with prediabetes to prevent or delay onset of type 2 diabetes.” At the core of the DPP is the lifestyle change program – a year-long initiative designed for adults with diabetes and pre-diabetes with the goal of enhancing lifestyles through healthier eating, enhanced physical activity, and better stress management. These programs are offered in-person, online, via distance learning, and or through a combination of these modes.

One intervention that the National DPP is increasingly looking to implement is that of faith-based organizations (FBOs), which can be defined as “trusted places of worship, nondenominational ministries, interdenominational and ecumenical organizations (churches, synagogues, temples, monasteries, mosques, and other houses of worship and natural centers for spiritual, emotional, and physical wellness, etc.) operating from or within a religious or spiritual setting and led by religious leaders with health commitments or by health professionals with faith commitments.”

FBOs can especially effectuate African Americans since, according to the presenters, historically the Black Church has been the nucleus of life and health in African American communities, and because over half of African Americans visit faith-based settings on a weekly basis.

Regarding implementation, the authors wrote that “this is our opportunity to make a significant impact in type 2 diabetes prevention and the data tells that we all must succeed.”

Saunders M, Van Aacken S. Expanding the National DPP Lifestyle Change Program Through Faith, Food, Fitness, and Healthy Lifestyle.

Presented at the AADE19 Meeting; August 9-12, 2019; Houston, TX.