The solution for reducing risk for Type 2 diabetes seems simple. Lose weight, and better health will follow.
But simple doesn’t mean easy.
Many chronic health conditions from diabetes to heart disease can be improved and even reversed by adopting lifestyle changes, according to research. It’s the most clinically effective, cost effective, least risky, least invasive treatment option. But given people’s busy schedules, everyday stresses, and personal economic circumstances, maintaining these changes can be difficult, leading them to fall back on old habits.
That’s why Blue Shield of California partnered with Solera Health to offer members its Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), a digital and in-person program to help them reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes. The program was launched in 2017, enrolling 7,400 participants in the first year. It’s part of BSC’s Lifestyle Medicine program, Wellvolution. Like many of BSC’s Lifestyle Medicine programs, it’s at no additional cost to qualifying members.
According to one DPP participant and BSC member, Sonji Walker, the program has resulted in a 12-pound weight loss for her. And while she was always aware of the common sense healthy choices she should be making, the DPP tools helped her stay on track. “I think that given the Fitbit and participating in Weight Watchers' latest program just made me more conscious and more consistent,” said Walker.
Over the course of the first six-month class, 96.5 percent of members stayed enrolled. Participants lost an average of 3.4 percent of their body weight by changing their diets and increasing their physical activity. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, this level of weight loss results in a 38 percent decrease of their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
With the stakes so high, devising a plan that keeps at-risk members engaged is key to its success.
Type 2 diabetes is one of the top five health conditions affecting Californians, according to the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index. According to the California Department of Health, 2.5 million California adults report having been diagnosed with diabetes, representing one out of every 12 adult Californians. The majority of diabetes cases are type 2, representing 1.9 million adults.
Members can enroll by taking a one-minute online quiz, determining whether they’re at risk for type 2 diabetes. Those who qualify can then join Weight Watchers. Or many, and as program managers have noted, prefer to engage digitally. Participants receive digital tools, like a free wireless scale and a Fitbit activity tracker to help them measure their progress. In addition, these programs are designed to keep participants accountable and include small group support, weekly lessons and the option of having a personal coach.
In 2018, the plan’s goal is to increase participation by 10,000 members.