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Prevention programs help people with prediabetes

A group participates in a prediabetes prevention program at the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington. (WJLA-TV)

One out of every three adults in the United States has prediabetes. That's 86 million Americans.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is partnering with organizations nationwide to tackle this disease with diabetes prevention programs.

Michael Fields is exercising more since receiving a daunting diagnosis.

"My doctor advised me that I needed to start changing my lifestyle, like I was prediabetic," Fields said.

He also signed up for a Diabetes Prevention Program at the UMCA of Metropolitan Washington. It's for prediabetics who are one step shy of developing type 2 diabetes.

"It's a 25-class support group, and we talk about various things from healthy eating, eating out, counting your fat grams, to stress levels," said Heather Wilson of the YMCA of Metropolitan Washington.

The CDC-approved curriculum has two main goals: increase exercise to 150 minutes a week and reduce body weight by 5 to 7 percent.

Since starting the program, Nancy Shia said she's more aware of what she eats.

"Focusing on what you're eating is the most important thing, where you know how many calories you're taking in," Shia said.

She's getting results.

"The biggest result I've found is in my blood pressure," Shia said. "After losing about 5 pounds, it started to become normal, and it's pretty normal now."

Research done by the National Institutes of Health found the program can reduce new cases of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent and by 71 percent in people over age 60.

"You do not want to rest on this, you want to make sure you turn it around because very soon -- and we don't know when -- you will begin to have the symptoms as well as begin to have diabetes," said Dr. Marilyn McPherson Corder, a pediatrician and geneticist.

But 90 percent of people with prediabetes don't know they have it. When you visit the doctor, be your own advocate.

"The patient should always ask, 'What are my numbers?' because pre-diabetes is asymptomatic, meaning you have no symptoms," said Michelle Katz, a health care consumer advocate.

Fields is now motivated to take control of his health, and he encourages others to do the same.

"If you have time to reverse diabetes or prediabetes, why not take it full forward and do it?" Fields said.

Medical treatments for type 2 diabetes typically cost about $650 a month.

This YMCA's nationwide program costs $36 a month. Some insurances cover it, and the Y says Medicare is expected to start covering it in 2018 too.

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