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Diabetes Prevention Program
Central Arizona College
Coolidge, Arizona

Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death and disability in the U.S., and a leading factor of long-term complications causing blindness, heart disease, strokes, kidney failure, amputations, and birth defects. In the United States, 18.2 million people, or 6.3 percent of the population, have been diagnosed with diabetes, and an additional 5.2 million people – nearly a third of the population – may have the disease without being aware of it. With all measures constant, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates these numbers will double by 2010, rising to epidemic proportions. 

The development and increase of diabetes affects not only patients themselves, but also the health care system. The surge of people with diabetes has put direct and indirect costs for services at nearly $132 billion a year. The average health care cost for a person with diabetes in 2002 was $13,243, compared with $2,560 for a person who is diabetes free, and these costs have more than doubled within the last five years. 

The cause of diabetes continues to be a mystery, although both genetics and environmental factors appear to play roles in the four major categories of medical diabetes. Type 1 diabetes, previously known as juvenile diabetes, is usually diagnosed in children and young adults. In Type 1 diabetics, the body fails to produce insulin, the hormone that unlocks the cells of the body, allowing glucose to enter and fuel them. It is estimated that 5 to 10 percent of Americans diagnosed with diabetes have the Type 1 variety. Gestational diabetes affects about 4 percent of all pregnant women, and is purported to be hormonally triggered, creating a state of insulin resistance. Gestational diabetes starts when the body is unable to generate and use all the insulin needed for pregnancy. Without enough insulin, glucose cannot leave the blood and be converted to energy, thus building up to unsafe levels and leading to a state called hyperglycemia. Pre-diabetes is a condition that occurs when a person's blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of Type 2 diabetes. There are 4.1 million Americans who have pre-diabetes, in addition to the 18.2 million with diabetes. Research shows that taking progressive action to manage blood glucose at this stage can delay or prevent Type 2 diabetes from ever developing. Type 2 is the more common form of diabetes, and results when the body becomes insulin resistant, a condition in which the body fails to properly use insulin. Approximately 90 to 95 percent (17 million) of Americans who are diagnosed with diabetes have Type 2, and this form is more common in African Americans, Latinos, Native Americans, and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders, as well as the aged population.

An alarming national concern is the rise in Type 2 or adult-onset diabetes, which in many cases is linked to the American diet and lifestyle. A growing body of research indicates that Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with proper nutrition and exercise. Recognizing diabetes as the fifth leading cause of death among women and sixth among men, Secretary of Health and Human Services Tommy G. Thompson claimed, "Obesity and diabetes are among our top public health problems in the United States today." To date, there is no cure for diabetes, but there are treatments, and the best treatment is prevention.

Program Description

The Diabetes Prevention Assistant (DPA) Certificate Program originally began as a collaborative effort between the Gila River Indian Community and the CAC Dietetic Education Program. Courses for college credit were developed and training was originally provided for CHR (Community Health Representatives), who in turn worked within their community to provide diabetes prevention information. Since the beginning of the program in May 2000, there have been 300 students enrolling, with the majority of the students registering from various tribes across the state.

The 17-credit DPA Certificate is designed to provide current training and information not only to CHR’s, but also to other paraprofessionals working with people at risk for diabetes or developing complications from the disease. The program format targets understanding of the disease, prevention measures, and specific strategies to prevent and manage diabetes mellitus.

Individual courses provide great opportunities to inform and educate the public about the various aspects of diabetes. The program includes the spectrum of information, from a theoretical base of the disease, to prevention strategies, lifestyle management, the impact of food and culture in our lifestyle, and behavior and coping skills. A sample of the course titles reflect the variety of learning objectives and include Introduction to Diabetes, Tools for Diabetes Management, Preventing Complications of Diabetes,Culture, Behavior, and Coping Skills, and Psychosocial Impact of Diabetes. In addition to course content, the program includes a clinical field experience to apply working knowledge in a professional setting.

The DPA Certificate meets the 2001 American Diabetes Association Standards, and is recognized by the American Diabetes Association (ADA), the Gila River Indian Community (GRIC), and the Inter-Tribal Council of Arizona (ITCA).


As Americans, we have “supersized” a more sedentary lifestyle, and with this, the rate of obesity and diabetes has risen dramatically. The convergence of today’s clinical, psychological, and social issues related to diabetes requires a focused approach in health care services. According to researchers at CDC, diabetes has grown to be a “disease of our civilization." The CDC further notes that our bodies have adapted over thousands of years to protect us against starvation, but we're not protected against excess. Following a proven line of history, the Diabetes Prevention Certificate at Central Arizona College is built on the knowledge that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.

For additional information, please contact Glenna_McCollum at Central Arizona College, telephone: 602-980-2397. Interested individuals are also encouraged and welcome to visit the CAC Diabetes Prevention Program website.



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