Upstate News

February 26, 2008
Doretta Royer 315 464-4833

Joslin Center, Onondaga County pilot diabetes prevention workplace initiative

SYRACUSE, N.Y. —The Joslin Diabetes Center at SUNY Upstate Medical University and Onondaga County are collaborating on a pilot workplace program for county employees that may serve as a model to reduce the growing epidemic of type 2 diabetes in the county and the millions of dollars in healthcare costs to treat the disease. The program is projected to begin in late spring or early summer.

Onondaga County is providing $50,000 to the Joslin Center to develop and pilot the workplace initiative. The program will base its strategies on evidence gained from the Diabetes Prevention Program, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, as well as other published clinical trials. These studies show that a healthy lifestyle that includes regular physical activity, good nutrition, a modest reduction in weight for those who are overweight, and smoking cessation can significantly decrease an individual’s risk of developing diabetes as well as helping individuals who already have diabetes and other chronic diseases.

“Our primary strategies will be to offer activities that promote healthy living and that can be easily and conveniently maintained,” said Ruth Weinstock, M.D., Ph.D., SUNY Upstate’s chief of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism and director of the Joslin Center. “If successful, the pilot program will provide local evidence that will encourage other organizations to adopt this program and decrease the economic and health burden of diabetes and related conditions in Onondaga County.”

Employees of the county’s health and probation departments will pilot the program.

The Joslin Center will conduct focus groups of potential participants to gain their input regarding the types of, and best times for, workplace activities; methods of evaluation; and possible incentives to encourage continued participation in the initiative.

Paula Trief, Ph.D., professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at SUNY Upstate, will work with Weinstock and other Joslin Center faculty to plan, implement and evaluate the pilot program. Joslin’s recommendations for wellness programs will enhance those currently offered to county employees.

Type 2 diabetes and obesity are growing epidemics in the United States. The number of people living with diabetes in the U.S. has increased by over 60 percent in the last 15 years and is expected to double by the year 2050.

This is one of many projects that the Joslin Center is conducting to help people with diabetes or who are at risk for developing diabetes.

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