Lifestyle Change Program Details

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You’ve decided to make some healthy changes, and a CDC-recognized diabetes prevention lifestyle change program seems right for you.

Read on to learn what a program is like.

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"I love the program's group camaraderie and have learned many different and valuable perspectives about making healthy lifestyle changes." - Donni Hall, Program Participant

In a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program, you’ll learn, laugh, share stories, try new things, and build new habits—all while lowering your risk of type 2 diabetes and improving your health.

Key components of the program include:

  • CDC-approved curriculum with lessons, handouts, and other resources to help you make healthy changes.
  • A lifestyle coach, specially trained to lead the program, to help you learn new skills, encourage you to set and meet goals, and keep you motivated. The coach will also facilitate discussions and help make the program fun and engaging.
  • A support group of people with similar goals and challenges. Together, you can share ideas, celebrate successes, and work to overcome obstacles. In some programs, the participants stay in touch with each other during the week. It may be easier to make changes when you’re working as a group than doing it on your own.

Hear what others have to say about CDC-recognized lifestyle change programs on the Testimonials from Participants page, or watch “A Change for Life” video about a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program.

To be eligible for a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program, you must meet ALL of the following criteria:

  • Be 18 years or older
  • Be overweight (body mass index above 24, or 22 if you are Asian)
  • Have NOT been diagnosed with type 1 or type 2 diabetes
  • NOT be pregnant

In addition, you must meet ONE of the following criteria (unless you are enrolling in a program covered by Medicare):

  • Have had a recent blood test in the prediabetes range, which includes one of the following tests and results:
    • Hemoglobin A1C: 5.7–6.4% or
    • Fasting plasma glucose: 100–125 mg/dL or
    • Two-hour plasma glucose (after a 75 gm glucose load): 140–199 mg/dL
  • Have received a result of high risk for type 2 diabetes on the Prediabetes Risk Test.
  • A doctor previously diagnosed you with gestational diabetes.

If you are enrolling in a program covered by Medicare, you MUST have had a recent blood test in the prediabetes range, which includes one of the following tests and results:

  • Hemoglobin A1C: 5.7–6.4% or
  • Fasting plasma glucose: 100–125 mg/dL or
  • Two-hour plasma glucose (after a 75 gm glucose load): 140–199 mg/dL

The program runs for 1 year.

  • During the first 6 months of the program, you will meet about once a week.
  • During the second 6 months, you’ll meet once or twice a month.

You may think you learned enough in the first 6 months and can skip the second half of the program. But you’d be cheating yourself!

Making lifestyle changes is an ongoing process. Staying in the program for the full year is essential to help you stick to new habits and avoid slipping back into old habits. And if you have not reached your goals in the first half of the program, your lifestyle coach and other group members can help you succeed.

Woman smiling
"The coach taught me that you can learn and grow from mistakes, rather than being discouraged by them." -Cynthia Johnson, Program Participant

During the first half of the program, you will learn to:

  • Eat healthy without giving up all the foods you love
  • Add physical activity to your life, even if you don’t think you have time
  • Deal with stress
  • Cope with challenges that can derail your hard work—like how to choose healthy food when eating out
  • Get back on track if you stray from your plan—because everyone slips now and then

In the second half of the program, you will enhance the skills you’ve learned so you can maintain the changes you’ve made. These sessions will review key ideas such as tracking your food and physical activity, setting goals, staying motivated, and overcoming barriers. The lifestyle coach and small group will continue to support you. You may learn some new information, too. Check out a list of all the topics covered in the program pdf icon[PDF-178KB].

All CDC-recognized lifestyle change programs follow a CDC-approved curriculum and discuss the same topics over the year. But, your lifestyle coach will adapt the sessions to match your group’s background, interests, and needs.

For instance, your lifestyle coach may:

  • Show you how to prepare healthy versions of popular local or ethnic foods and ask for ideas from group members
  • Provide tips for eating healthy during cultural holidays or events
  • Share fun local events that can help you be physically active
  • Give you handouts to address your specific concerns

There’s also a Spanish-language curriculum, so some programs are offered completely in Spanish.

The cost of participating in a CDC-recognized lifestyle change program varies, depending on location, organization offering it, and type of program (in person or online).

To learn about the cost of a specific program, Find a Program that works for you and ask the organization offering it about the cost. It may even be free!

In addition, some employers and insurance carriers cover the cost of these programs. Check with your employer or insurance carrier to see if they cover the cost of attending one of these programs

You can choose either an in-person, online, distance learning, or combination lifestyle change program.

In-person Programs

In an in-person program, you’ll meet face-to-face with group members and the lifestyle coach. CDC-recognized lifestyle change in-person programs are offered in a variety of places throughout the community, including health care clinics, community-based organizations, and worksites.

Hands-on demonstrations will help with learning, and the coach will provide handouts with useful information and practice activities.

Most in-person sessions have three parts:

  • A review and check-in on weekly progress, which includes a private weigh-in
  • A discussion about the week’s topic that will give you a chance to learn from the program materials and each other
  • A wrap-up with a to-do list and handouts to reinforce what you’ve learned

Online Programs

Online programs must be 100% online delivery of sessions with multiple opportunities for live lifestyle coach interaction. They all follow a CDC-approved curriculum and are held to the same standards as in-person programs. They also include use of a lifestyle coach, either in a group format or one-on-one.

Although many online tracking programs can help you log food and physical activity, CDC-recognized lifestyle change programs provide important feedback from a lifestyle coach on what you log so you can make changes to reach your goals.

An online program is a great option if you find it hard to attend regular on-site meetings or there is not an in-person program near you.

Distance Learning

Distance learning programs are yearlong lifestyle change programs delivered 100% by trained Lifestyle Coaches via remote classroom or telehealth (i.e., conference call or Skype) where the Lifestyle Coach is present in one location and participants are calling or video-conferencing in from another location.

This is a great option for participants who want group interaction, but live in remote areas and cannot attend an in-person program.

Combination

Take the prediabetes test

Year-long lifestyle change programs are delivered as a combination of any of the previously defined delivery modes for all participants by trained Lifestyle Coaches.

Not sure about your risk for prediabetes and type 2 diabetes? Take our online prediabetes risk test.

Ready to make a change? Find a Program today.

Page last reviewed: April 4, 2019