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Monday, February 6, 2012 - 3:00am

Diabetes Study Focuses On City Workers

City employees on the verge of developing diabetes in Columbus, Macon and Athens-Clarke County will soon get help.

A study by University of Georgia researchers will help workers manage their weight and reduce their risk of becoming Type II diabetics.

It’s one of the first programs related to the university’s obesity initiative, announced recently by UGA President Michael Adams (click here to learn more about the initiative).

“We had this program that was tested in a clinical setting and we really want to see if we can translate it, [and if] we can make it work in field-based settings,” said Mark Wilson, head of the department of health promotion and behavior in UGA’s College of Public Health. “Because in doing so, we can reach an awful lot of people.”

Wilson said the program is ultimately designed to prevent Type II diabetes, but it’s really about managing weight.

“It’s designed to get individuals right when they’re what they call ‘pre-diabetic,’” Wilson said. “They’re not officially diabetic yet, but they’re getting close. We help them moderate their lifestyle, become more physically active, be careful what they’re eating.”

The workplace-based program will teach all participants how to change their diet and get more exercise. Some will work one-on-one with a health coach while others will meet in small groups.

Wilson said the key is to see which approach works best and is most cost-effective so the cities can continue the program after the study is over.

The research is funded by $3 million from the National Institutes of Health and National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Two-thirds of adults and one-third of children in Georgia are obese or overweight, according to the Centers for Disease Control. The disease costs Georgia $2.4 billion a year, including health care costs and lost productivity.

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