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Extension Diabetes Prevention Program Making a Difference

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Gary McCullough figured he had a good plan for shedding unwanted pounds. 

“I thought to lose weight, I could just eat less of the same kinds of foods,” he says.

The Valley City man found that isn’t the case when he attended the National Diabetes Prevention Program hosted by NDSU Extension.

He lost 20 pounds as a result of the program and learned to make better food choices. He also took over meal preparation at home and began exercising 150 minutes weekly.

“The program is all about how to create healthier behaviors and improve your lifestyle,” says Nikki Johnson, NDSU Extension community health and nutrition specialist.

The one-year program includes educational sessions and support for people with prediabetes and those at a high risk for prediabetes. It is designed to help people take control of their health by making healthful food choices, losing weight and being more active.

Surveys show the program is working. In 2020:

  • Participants had an average weight loss of 6.1% per person
  • 94% reported an increase in their physical activity level
  • 58% reported their blood glucose was lower than when they began the program
  • 58% indicated their total blood cholesterol level was lower

Participants have three options for taking the class: meet in person, do distance learning through Zoom or go online to learn on their own schedule within a certain timeframe.  Extension offers the class at no charge or for a nominal fee.

NDSU Extension has teamed up with public health staff and local health-care providers throughout the state to offer the program. Extension also is involved in other partnerships, such as running classes for Sanford Health Plan members.

“The program is successful because the participants are supported in their journey,” says Susan Milender, the Extension family and community wellness agent in Barnes County.

Nikki Johnson, (701) 231-5165,