Most people may not know that the Town of Greeneville offers a voluntary wellness program for its employees. Some of the features include an employee health clinic, lower health insurance premiums, and guidance provided by Wellness Coordinator, Tracy Green BSN RN. Participants keep track of annual wellness points for completing initiatives such as a health assessment, an annual physical exam, and/or an organized walk or run. There are about 30 ways to earn points, including a voluntary year-long class for diabetes prevention.
The National Diabetes Prevention Program was created to address the increasing burden of prediabetes (having a Hemoglobin A1c between 5.7-6.4%) and type 2 diabetes in the United States. One key feature of the National DPP is the CDC-recognized lifestyle change program, a research-based program focusing on healthy eating and physical activity which showed that people with prediabetes who take part in a structured lifestyle change program can cut their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% (71% for people over 60 years old). Tracy spent several days in Atlanta getting certified by the CDC to lead this program in 2010 and has lead groups ever since, only pausing during the Covid season.
Participants in this year-long program learn how to eat healthy, add physical activity to their routine, manage stress, stay motivated, and solve problems that can get in the way of one’s goals. This program is proven to prevent or delay type 2 diabetes. About 20% of our employees at the Town of Greeneville fall into the prediabetes risk. After annual screenings each year, people who meet the criteria for the program are contacted about the program and asked if they would like to join. The employee makes their decision about participation after a brief introductory class explaining the program requirements and expectations. This year’s class started with 10 participants, and after 16 straight weeks of meeting, there are 6 completers, each having lost at least 10 pounds. The class will now meet once a month for the next 6 months. The class includes weekly weigh-ins, food tasting, lessons, accountability, and fun activities.
Steven Neesen, Greeneville Municipal Airport Manager, participated in the program this year and offered to share his experience in an interview. Through the once-a-week meetings, Steven learned more about caloric intake and fat grams, as well as the benefits of smaller portions of food. Now he says that he and his wife will sometimes spilt dinner at a restaurant so that they can still enjoy their favorite foods. Additionally, Steven enjoys cooking at home by using a meal kit delivery service. He credits the diabetes prevention program with helping to change his mindset and lifestyle. Being in a group setting motivated Steven to be consistent with his new habits.
Consistency proved successful for Steven. After 16 weeks of the program, he lost a total of 32 pounds. However, Steven explained that he didn’t participate in the program to lose weight; he did it to become healthier. The lost weight is a bonus since his clothes fit better and he has more energy. He speaks well of the program and Tracy’s coaching and encourages others who fall into the prediabetic category to complete the program. Congratulations, Steven, and all completers of the program!