Year-long lifestyle intervention program also available to other at-risk individuals

July 13, 2017

Veterans at risk for diabetes can now participate in a year-long program to prevent the diseasefor free.


A $13,000 grant from the Disabled Veterans National Foundation will allow us to offer our nationally-acclaimed Diabetes Prevention Program to 30 physician-referred military service members and veterans.

“The YMCA Diabetes Prevention program has helped people nationwide and with this generous grant, we can help veterans live longer, healthier lives too,” said YMCA of Greater Indianapolis President and CEO Eric Ellsworth.

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5% weight loss, 150 minutes of activity

The YDDP encourages modest lifestyle changes focused on nutrition and physical activity. The program meets weekly for four months, then monthly for the rest of the year. The goal for participants: 5 percent weight loss and 150 minutes of physical activity a week. Because research by the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that for every 2.2 kg a participant loses, their risk for diabetes is reduced by 13 percent.

Outstanding results for veteran

Elaine Cassidy, a veteran living in Boone County, recently completed the program and says, “I encourage anyone wanting to learn how to lose weight in a healthy manner to try this program. My loss of 19.2 lbs. in 16 weeks is outstanding to me. Learning about foods that are high in fat grams and calories was important, and positive peer pressure kept me motivated. This experience will benefit me for the rest of my life.”

Soon to be covered by Medicare and Medicaid

Veterans diabetes statThe evidence-based program we developed in partnership with Indiana University School of Medicine in 2005 was adopted by the Center for Disease Control in 2010, and is now delivered at more than 200 YMCAs across the country.

Since its inception, the YDDP has served 1,780 people who’ve achieved a mean weight loss of 4.5 percent from their starting body weight in the first four months and 6.1 percent by the end of the program.

In 2016, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recognized a cost savings of more than $2,600 per individual in the program. United Healthcare began supporting DPP this year, and in 2018, Medicare and Medicaid will both cover the cost.

YDDP is available to other at-risk individuals for $429 at 12 area YMCAs. Scholarships are available.

Health disparity among vets

Veterans tend to suffer from certain health issues—chronic pain, obesity and PTSD—at disproportionally higher rates than the civilian population. For instance, in Marion County, 42 percent of veterans are obese and 28 percent are diagnosed diabetics. With 120,000 veterans living in Marion and adjoining counties, seemingly, many more could benefit from the program.

“The health and wellness of our veterans is one of DVNF’s top priorities,” said Joseph VanFonda (USMC Sgt.Maj. Ret.), CEO of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation. “We’re pleased that The YMCA of Greater Indianapolis is taking steps to address diabetes concerns among our veterans, and we hope that this grant will allow them to help more veterans going forward.”

A continuing commitment to veterans

The YMCA has long supported veterans and will continue this tradition with the opening of the new OrthoIndy Foundation YMCA in 2018. In this first-of-its kind partnership in the country, the new Y, sitting on 12 acres in Pike Township, will serve the entire community and offer specialized medical services for veterans in a 5,000-square-foot outpatient center staffed by the Richard L. Roudebush VA Medical Center.

We also offer 20 percent off the standard membership rate and other special programs for military and active service members. Learn more at

One of four chronic illness programs

In addition to DDP, we offer programs that address other chronic illnesses:

  • Livestrong® – physical and social activities for adults affected by cancer
  • Enhance Fitness Arthritis Management and Arthritis Aquatics
  • Blood Pressure Self-Monitoring Class

For more information, contact Anne Graves, executive director, Healthy Living Initiatives, YMCA of Greater Indianapolis, at (317) 713-8548.