LUCEDALE, Miss. (WKRG) – Mississippians in every corner of the state will soon have access to diabetes prevention support.

Mississippi Lifestyle Care recently launched as a statewide program to offer Medicare Part B recipients the opportunity to engage in free lifestyle coaching to help prevent diabetes.

The program helps participants with diet, exercise, healthy lifestyles and weight loss for a full year at no cost. The Diabetes Coalition of Mississippi is deploying a workforce to execute the program by hiring and training people in every zip code across the state to serve as lifestyle coaches.

For those who qualify as having prediabetes, a lifestyle coach will provide in-person support to help participants reduce their chances of experiencing the onset of type 2 diabetes.

“Coming up on the New Year, everybody’s looking to change their lifestyles and lose weight, to eat better, to be more active,” said Phil Trotter, Prevention Chair for Diabetes Coalition of Mississippi. “We provide you with a lifestyle coach for a full year just to do that.”

Prediabetes is a condition where individuals have higher than normal blood sugar and an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the future.

814,000 Mississippians, and nearly one-third of Americans, have prediabetes. 80% are not aware they are prediabetic, according to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

“The unfortunate part about diabetes, so often, you don’t know that you’re even approaching it until you cross that line and your physician diagnoses you,” said Trotter. “It’s one of those diseases that you want to stop because the ramification of diabetes- it’s a very difficult disease. And it’s very costly.”

Mississippi Lifestyle Care is focused on healthy lifestyle change to reduce the massive chronic disease burden on the state’s healthcare systems. It is the first program of its kind to deploy lifestyle coaches across the entire state to confront type 2 diabetes, obesity and social determinants of health barriers.

To successfully support participants, lifestyle coaches will first work to make sure they are barrier-free to improving their health like being food and housing secure.

Each program participant will receive one-on-one coaching while also being part of a group of 12 to 15 people in their community to hold each other accountable.

“Even after the year, you will be part of a group that stays with you in terms of support,” said Trotter. “We know that you just can’t attend a couple of meetings and all of a sudden your lifestyle has changed. You need a lot of help with that. And then there’s a lot of support even after that year.”

The national Diabetes Prevention Program was created by the CDC in 2010. It says the lifestyle coaching model makes participants 58% less likely to develop diabetes. Mississippi received $1.2 million in federal funding to provide the outreach in Fiscal Year 2022. Physicians can refer eligible patients to take part in the program or Medicare Part B recipients can register on their own. Those who are interested in participating should visit www.mslifestylecare.com to find out if they are eligible for the program.