Start Corp. is starting a new program in Houma to help people change their lifestyles to lower the number of area people with Type 2 diabetes.
The yearlong, free program was developed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and has been implemented in other locations across the country.
Tiffanie Smith, a registered nurse with Start Corp., said people must be pre-diabetic to participate, which is dependent on their hemoglobin levels or results from fasting labs. If someone hasn't been diagnosed a pre-diabetic, the person can also qualify for the program if he or she scores a five or higher on a seven-question survey.
Smith trained to becoming a lifestyle coach to conduct the program after the American Medical Association reached out to their center to ask if they would consider starting the program.
Prior to the start of this program, the closest one was in Metairie.
"We need this, especially since the rates around here in Terrebonne Parish are through the roof," she said, referring to the number of people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes.
The program offers support and guidance for its participants to change their diets and add more exercise before they become diabetic.
She said that while 37.5 percent of people in Louisiana are pre-diabetic, many don't realize it.
"It's estimated that 27,000 people in Louisiana progress from pre-diabetic to Type 2 diabetes each year," said Smith.
The program's first meeting will take place at 3 p.m. Sept. 17 and will last an hour. From there, Smith said the group will meet once a week for the first four months then twice a month for two months. For the remaining six months, they will meet once a week.
To register, Smith said people can call her at 333-2010. The group can accept eight more participants.
--Staff Writer Halle Parker can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 857-2204. Follow her on Twitter, @_thehalparker.