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VA Offers a New Tool to Help Veterans Prevent Diabetes

WASHINGTON  “The Diabetes Prevention Program will provide Veterans with another tool to help them lead healthier, fuller lives, reducing their risk for diabetes,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki. 

The DPP was a major multi-center clinical research study aimed at discovering whether modest weight loss through dietary change and increased physical activity or treatment with the oral diabetes drug metformin could prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes.

The study enrolled participants who were prediabetic— overweight and with blood glucose (blood sugar) levels higher than normal, but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes.  Results showed those who lost a modest amount of weight through dietary changes and increased physical activity sharply reduced their chances of developing diabetes.

“Approximately 24 percent of Veterans have Type 2 diabetes,” said Dr. Linda Kinsinger, VA’s chief consultant for preventive medicine. “We’ve monitored the DPP’s results and we feel that it could be another tool to make a difference for Veterans.”

Through VA’s pilot DPP, which will be offered on a strictly voluntary basis, some Veterans who are at risk for, but not diagnosed with, diabetes will attend a series of group sessions and will be given predetermined weight loss and physical activity goals.  Research has shown that, while many Veterans benefit by establishing their own health goals, others show positive improvement working towards goals determined by the program.

Other Veterans at risk for diabetes will receive weight management care through MOVE! – VA’s current weight management program.  The program targets a broad range of patients who are obese or overweight with obesity-related conditions, whereas the DPP specifically targets those obese individuals who have laboratory evidence of prediabetes.

Because VA is eager to try new approaches to promoting health and preventing disease, it is implementing a pilot VA version of the DPP.  A limited number of Veterans with prediabetes will be able to participate in this pilot clinical program at the medical centers in Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Greater Los Angeles with VA Ann Arbor serving as the coordinating center.

For more information on this program, contact Jay Shiffler (jay.shiffler@va.gov) at the VA National Center for Health Promotion and Disease Prevention.  To learn more about the VA’s prevention program, visit http://www.prevention.va.gov/index.asp.

VA operates the largest integrated health care system in the country.  With a health care budget of more than $50 billion, VA expects to provide care to 6.1 million patients supporting 920,000 hospitalizations and nearly 80 million outpatient visits this year.  VA’s health care network includes 152 major medical centers and more than 800 community based outpatient clinics.

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