Suffolk County offers free program to help residents reduce diabetes risk

Suffolk County Executive Steve Bellone and the Department of Health Services Commissioner Dr. Gregson Pigott invite residents who are at risk for developing type-2 diabetes to participate, free of charge, in Suffolk County’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The program supports moderate behavioral changes and has proven to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes or delay the onset in people who are at risk for type 2 diabetes. 

“We seek to reverse, in Suffolk County, the nationwide trend toward increased rates of diabetes. This program addresses the behaviors and thought processes that contribute to diabetes, a disease that exacts enormous costs to the individual, the family and the community,” said Executive Bellone, who rolled out the DPP program in 2013. 

Since then, the Suffolk County Department of Health Services has trained 34 Lifestyle Coaches in 20 community agencies to administer the program to residents. To date, 359 residents have participated in the National Diabetes Prevention Program conducted by the Suffolk County Department of Health Services and numerous more through the department’s partners. 

DPP emerged from a research study led by the National Institutes of Health that showed that with intensive counseling and motivational support, program participants were able to make the behavioral changes that reduced their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent. Lifestyle changes worked particularly well for participants aged 60 and older, reducing their risk by 71 percent. 

“We are very pleased to be offering this program in person rather than online after a hiatus due to COVID-19,” said Dr. Pigott. “I encourage participation, as uncontrolled diabetes puts people at risk for heart disease, eye problems, kidney disease, amputations and complications of pregnancy and Covid-19. The good news is that moderate changes in lifestyle can help restore blood sugar toward normal levels and result in significant health benefits.” 

The Diabetes Prevention Program is led by a trained lifestyle coach. It meets one hour per week for 16 weeks, then bi-monthly for the remainder of one year. The Department of Health Services will begin its new in-person Diabetes Prevention Program in March. 

An informational session about the program is being offered at the Port Jefferson Library located at 100 Thompson St. Port Jefferson on Februay 23 at 6 p.m.  To register for the informational session, call 631-473-0022.  DPP sessions are scheduled as follows: 

Port Jefferson
Dates Core Sessions: March 8, 15, 22, 29 April 5, 12, 19, 26
May 3, 10, 17, 24, 31 June 7, 14, 21
Post Core Sessions: July 12, 26 August 9, 23 September 20, October 18,
November 15, December 20, January 17, and February 7
Time:  6:00 – 7:15 PM
Contact: Debora Rippel at 631-853-2928 or email or Wanda Ortiz, Sr. Office Assistant, 631-853-3162 

To enroll in the Diabetes Prevention Program, residents must meet 3 criteria: Must be over the age of 18, and have a Body Mass Index (BMI) greater than or equal to 25 (23 for Asian Americans) AND one of the following: a score of 5 or higher on the CDC risk test, have had gestational diabetes mellitus (GDM), or have had certain blood-test results that indicate they are at risk for developing diabetes. To find out if you are at risk for diabetes, visit or call the Office of Health Education at 631-853-3162. 

Image courtesy of thesatimes

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