Published October 21, 2019
Adults with prediabetes have an opportunity to participate in a powerful, behavioral, weight control program developed at UB that will help them lose weight, improve their blood sugar and learn to make healthy decisions about diet and exercise.
Prediabetes is a condition in which a patient’s blood sugar is higher than normal, but not high enough to be considered diabetic. Researchers know that 80% of people with prediabetes will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight is a critical factor in preventing the disease.
“The Healthy Habits Behavioral Program incorporates diet, activity and a powerful behavior change program to help participants lose weight and keep it off,” says Mathew Biondolillo, a postdoctoral researcher in the Behavioral Medicine Lab in the Department of Pediatrics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB. He is the study coordinator.
The researchers’ goal is to assess the effectiveness of the Healthy Habits Behavioral Program. The program, funded by the National Institutes of Health, is being conducted both at UB and at Virginia Tech.
Developed by internationally known obesity expert Leonard H. Epstein, SUNY Distinguished Professor and director of the Behavioral Medicine Lab, the program has, in previous studies, resulted in participants losing an average of 20 pounds over six months.
And the first cohort to start the program has seen an average weight loss of 16 pounds after staying in the program for 12 weeks, with a reduction in hemoglobin A1C, a type of blood glucose measurement.
“We know that preventing Type 2 diabetes is possible,” Biondolillo says, “but it requires that patients understand which behaviors they need to change and how to make those behavioral changes last. Our program does both.”
The program is free to eligible participants, who must be prediabetic (as assessed in the lab with a finger-stick blood draw), have a body mass index of greater than 25, are not taking certain medications that may cause abnormal blood glucose levels, and meet other criteria.
A screening questionnaire to assess eligibility is available online.
Participants attend 13 group sessions over six months to learn about the program at the Behavioral Medicine Lab on UB’s South Campus.
They will also be assigned a case manager who will work with them on how to handle challenging situations, troubleshoot how to make healthy lifestyle changes and provide support. Blood pressure, cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C will be assessed several times throughout the six months.