The YMCA Helps New Yorkers Prevent Diabetes

08 November 2017

New York, NY – During National Diabetes Awareness Month, the YMCA of Greater New York is encouraging New Yorkers to understand their risk of developing type 2 diabetes and  take preventive steps — such as enrolling in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program (YMCA’s DPP) — if they have an elevated risk, known as prediabetes.

Nationwide, 84.1 million people have prediabetes, including 30 percent of adults and 40 percent of people 65 and older in New York City. Prediabetes is a condition in which a person’s blood glucose is elevated, but not high enough for a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. Only 10 percent of those with prediabetes know they have it, but with awareness and simple actions, those with prediabetes may prevent or delay the onset of the disease.

“New York City’s YMCA is committed to improving the health of all New Yorkers,” said Joann Donnelly, Vice President of Healthy Living, YMCA of Greater New York. “We all have heard that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. When it comes to type 2 diabetes this in fact can be true. The YMCA helps New Yorkers understand their risks for type 2 diabetes and how to tackle the disease head on, before they get it.”

Led by trained lifestyle coaches, the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program helps participants eat healthier, increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week, and experience moderate weight loss (the goal is 7 percent of total body weight). These modifications can significantly reduce the risk of developing the disease. The 12-month, 25-session community-based program can fight diabetes more effectively and at lower cost than other approaches.

Miladys Ortega, 68, is an example of the success of the YMCA’s DPP. A member of the North Brooklyn YMCA, Ortega has lost 20 pounds since enrolling in the program, and her blood sugar has dropped.

“I’ve changed my attitude about eating, and gotten rid of my old bad habits. I used to be very stressed and now I’m more relaxed because I exercise more,” said Ortega. “I am happy that my prediabetes condition is disappearing, and if I can do it, anyone can do it!”

The YMCA will be able to support even more participants like Ortega when Medicare begins reimbursements for programs like the YMCA’s DPP in 2018. The reimbursement program has the potential to save taxpayers more than $1 billion and drastically reduce the number of seniors with prediabetes in the United States. New York City’s YMCA was instrumental in driving this progress, participating in a three-year project proving the effectiveness of community-based organizations in fighting diabetes.

Since launching the program in 2010, New York City’s YMCA has offered 279 classes citywide, enrolling 2,230 people to date for a combined weight loss of 13,820 pounds.

Individuals can assess their risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes by taking a simple test at Through this assessment, visitors can also learn how lifestyle choices and family history help determine the ultimate risk for developing the disease. Several factors that could put a person at risk for type 2 diabetes include race, age, weight, and activity level. If a person is at risk, a diabetes screening conducted by a physician can confirm a diabetes or prediabetes diagnosis.

Making some basic lifestyle changes that contribute to weight loss and healthy living can decrease the risk for type 2 diabetes. Among these are:

  • Eat fruits and vegetables every day
  • Choose fish, lean meats, and poultry without skin
  • Aim for whole grains with every meal
  • Be moderately active, getting at least 150 minutes of physical activity each week
  • Choose water to drink instead of beverages with added sugar
  • Speak to your doctor about your diabetes risk factors, especially if you have a family history or are overweight


About New York City's YMCA
New York City's YMCA is here for all New Yorkers — to empower youth, improve health, and strengthen community. Founded in 1852, today the Y serves a diverse population of more than half a million New Yorkers who learn, grow, and thrive through programs and services at our 24 branches. Community is the cornerstone of the Y. Together, we connect active, engaged New Yorkers to build stronger communities. Follow us on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram at @ymcanyc.