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Release: May 9, 2002

People can enroll in UI diabetes prevention program

Diabetes is a growing health epidemic but it doesn't have to be. People at risk for type 2 diabetes can reverse the trend and benefit from proven exercise programs, such as the one developed by University of Iowa Health Care. People are encouraged to sign up for the next eight-week session, which begins May 28 and will be the only session offered until next fall.

"Reaching Euglycemia and Comprehensive Health" (REACH), helps individuals with pre-diabetes, the precursor of type 2 diabetes, to normalize their blood sugar (reach euglycemia). In addition, the personalized program welcomes people with diabetes risk factors who are hesitant to start an exercise program because of chronic problems, such as arthritis. Exercise routines are individualized to each person's needs and physical condition.

REACH therapists, dieticians and doctors provide counseling, expert advice, exercise evaluation and exercise sessions. Participants attend bi-weekly educational and exercise classes to help them ward off diabetes. The program fee is $205.

Type 2 diabetes usually begins in adulthood and causes insulin resistance, in which the body makes insulin but does not respond well to it. Left untreated or inadequately controlled, diabetes can cause heart disease, blindness, kidney failure and infections.

People are at increased risk of developing pre-diabetes and diabetes if any of the following conditions apply: having family members with diabetes; being overweight; having high blood pressure or high cholesterol levels; and being of Native American, African-American or Hispanic descent. In addition, several factors put women at risk: having diabetes during pregnancy; giving birth to a baby weighing more than nine pounds; and having polycystic ovarian syndrome (an endocrine condition).

National Institutes of Health findings published last year showed that a combination of diet and exercise was much more effective than medication alone in preventing diabetes. In late March, Tommy Thompson, secretary of Health and Human Services, and Francine Kaufman, M.D., president-elect of the American Diabetes Association, unveiled an expert panel's new

recommendations about pre-diabetes, which affects 16 million Americans. Information on the plan is available at

A fasting (before breakfast) test can determine whether a person has pre-diabetes. For more information about a free REACH screening, call UI Health Access toll-free at (800) 777-8442 or (319) 384-8442 locally.

For more information about enrolling in the eight-week REACH diabetes prevention program, call (319) 356-2663.

As with all medical decisions, it is best to consult with your personal physician before making any changes to your health care routine.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the UI Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at