Williamson Medical Center’s Diabetes Prevention Program Seeks Participants for Upcoming Free Program

Merle Sousa before and 8 months into WMC’s Diabetes Prevention Program.

FRANKLIN, Tenn. — Merle Sousa remembers watching his mother slip into a diabetic coma, so when his physician told him last year that his weight was going to push him straight into having diabetes himself, he knew he had to make a change.

Last August, he somewhat reluctantly enrolled in Williamson Medical Center’s Diabetes Prevention Program and says what he has learned has completely changed his life. He has lost 48 pounds, but has gained knowledge that he says he will take with him the rest of his life.

“This program has been an absolute life-changer for me,” he said. “I will admit, I went into it a little skeptical, but within weeks I realized this isn’t a weight loss program. This is about changing your life so that you don’t become a diabetic. You definitely lose weight, but that’s not the focus.”

Williamson Medical Center’s Diabetes Prevention Program has full recognition by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for its proven results in the fight against type 2 diabetes, just like Merle’s.

This designation by the CDC is reserved for programs that have effectively delivered a quality evidence-based program that meets all the CDC’s standards for recognition—an accomplishment that is earned by less than 10 percent of sites nationwide.

“Once you have diabetes, you can’t get rid of it, but if you have prediabetes, which is higher than normal blood sugar levels, or if you are at risk for developing diabetes, you can prevent it with lifestyle changes,” said Sarah Neil Pilkinton, R.D., who is also a trained lifestyle coach and a Certified Diabetes Educator at Williamson Medical Center. “People need to know they have the power to change their outcome.”

WMC is currently enrolling new participants in this free program. If you think you’re at risk for diabetes and you’re interested in participating in the program, please call 615-435-5580.

WMC began its Diabetes Prevention Program in 2013 after receiving a grant from the American Association of Diabetes Educators and the State of Tennessee in partnership with the CDC. Since then, 106 people have successfully completed the year-long program and have lost a combined 1,134 pounds. Nearly half of the participants shed at least 5 percent of their total body weight, which studies have shown is enough to prevent or delay the risk of diabetes.

The CDC estimates as many as one in three people could have diabetes by 2050. The Diabetes Prevention Program proved that participants who lost a modest amount of weight through dietary changes and increased physical activity reduced their chances of developing diabetes by 58 percent, which is a better outcome than taking medication.

Common risk factors for diabetes include being 10 to 15 pounds over your ideal weight, having a previous diagnosis of prediabetes or gestational diabetes, or having family members with the disease.

The Diabetes Prevention Program provides a year of education and support with a trained lifestyle coach for people who are at risk for developing diabetes but have not yet been diagnosed with the disease. Participants gather in a relaxed classroom setting and work together in small groups to learn how to incorporate healthier eating and moderate physical activity into their daily lives. The program is led by a trained lifestyle coach. Over a one-year period, the participants meet weekly for one hour a week for the first six months, followed by six months of maintenance sessions.

Williamson Medical Center’s Diabetes Prevention Program is currently enrolling anyone who thinks he or she may be at risk and is interested in participating in the program. To register or find out if you qualify for the program, contact the Diabetes Prevention Program at 615-435-5580.




Williamson Medical Center offers comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services, 24-hour emergency care, preventive health screenings and wellness activities. Services offered by Williamson Medical Center are developed to provide the most cost-effective, convenient and accessible health care possible. More than 600 physicians represent 70 medical specialties and sub-specialties. The caliber of physicians and care at Williamson Medical Center offers patients a level of expertise and sophistication one expects to find at larger facilities, but with compassion and convenience unique to WMC. In 2015, the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital Vanderbilt at Williamson Medical Center opened on our campus, adding dedicated pediatric emergent and inpatient care to our offerings. With our fully equipped pediatric rooms, we are now able to provide focused, specific care to the children of our community as well as their parents. For more information visit www.williamsonmedicalcenter.org.


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