Priority Policy

Diabetes Prevention Program

Preventing diabetes and weight-related illnesses before they become a problem

More than 30 million Americans live with diabetes, a number that has tripled in the last 20 years.The National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), administered by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, is a public-private partnership that supports evidence-based diabetes prevention interventions in communities around the country. DPP works to prevent or delay a diagnosis of diabetes for the 84 million Americans with prediabetes, a condition in which a patient has glucose levels that are elevated but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. DPP provides participants with practical training on nutrition, physical activity, and weight-control strategies. DPP received $25.3 million in funding in FY18. As of April 2018, Medicare reimburses the program for patients with prediabetes.

The success of the National DPP inspired the Medicare Diabetes Prevention Program (MDPP), a similar program available to qualified Medicare beneficiaries who have a body mass index (BMI) higher than 25 and are diagnosed with prediabetes. In 2016, Medicare spent $42 billion more on diabetes patients compared to patients who do not have diabetes. Six states—California, Maryland, Montana, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Washington—have instituted or are piloting similar programs.


The following recommendations regarding the Diabetes Prevention Program come from State of Obesity: Better Policies for a Healthier Future, 2018, produced by Trust for America’s Health and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

• The healthcare system should extend programs that are effective in terms of costs and performance, such as the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and the community health worker clinical coordination models. Providers and payers should allocate
resources to educating and referring patients to DPP and other covered benefits as appropriate.



YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program

The National Diabetes Prevention Program partners with local organizations like the YMCA. More than 2,000 Ys participate in the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program, which makes trained lifestyle coaches available to members to facilitate healthy behavior changes. The program consists of 25 one-hour sessions over the course of a year to help participants lose 5-7 percent of their body weight and exercise 150 minutes per week.

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Montana’s statewide diabetes
prevention program

Montana established its own statewide diabetes prevention program (DPP) through funding from the state’s Department of Public Health and Human Services. The funding covers telehealth resources for frontier and rural populations, transportation for Medicaid enrollees, training and technical assistance for lifestyle coaches who use the DPP curriculum, fitness exercises, and evaluation materials. Seventy percent of the 295 participants in the pilot program achieved the physical activity goal of 150 minutes or more per week; 45 percent achieved the seven percent weight loss goal. A larger evaluative study found that of the 1,003 participants who completed the intervention, 81 percent  showed significant improvements in blood pressure, fasting glucose, and LDL cholesterol levels.

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Fast Facts

1 in 3

More than 1 in 3 adults in the United States–84 million–have prediabetes, putting them at higher risk for type 2 diabetes, heart disease, and stroke.

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In 2017, the total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes was $327 billion in direct medical costs and lost productivity, an increase of 26 percent over the previous five years.

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Diabetes Prevention Programs can reduce the risk of participants developing diabetes by as much as 58 percent.

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Originally posted in August 2018.