HHS announces the winners of 2011 Healthy Living Innovation Awards

WASHINGTON — The Department of Health and Human Services on Friday announced the winners of an awards program that highlights innovative health promotion projects that have demonstrated a significant impact on the health of the community within the past three years.

Among the award winners was the YMCA of the USA, which had partnered with Walgreens and UnitedHealth Group on “Taking the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program to Scale.” Nominated organizations had to have an innovative project in at least 1-of-3 health promotion areas: healthy weight, physical activity and nutrition. Awards were granted based on the criteria of creativity and innovation, leadership, sustainability, replicability and results/outcomes.

In little more than two years, the program has been scaled from one pilot site to 116 sites in 22 cities. The YDPP is based on the landmark U.S. Diabetes Prevention Program, funded by the National Institutes of Health and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which showed that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with prediabetes can prevent or delay the onset of the disease by 58%. Indiana University School of Medicine researchers were able to replicate the results of the U.S. DPP — which was conducted one-on-one in a clinical setting — in conjunction with the YMCA of Indianapolis and proved that Ys can foster the same kind of intervention, but in a group setting, for a cost of 75% less than the U.S. DPP, while achieving similar weight-loss results.

YDPP’s goals: Reduce body weight by 7% and increase physical activity to 150 minutes per week. A trained lifestyle coach helps participants change their lifestyle by learning about healthy eating, physical activity and other behavioral changes over 16 one-hour classroom sessions. After the initial 16 sessions, participants meet monthly for added support for maintenance.

Efforts to scale the YDPP began with CDC funding in 2009, and allowed the faith-based organization to translate the science to practice in 22 cities in 2010. In April 2010, Y-USA partnered with UnitedHealth Group and Walgreens to begin to cover the YDPP for insured members and employees. By the end of 2011, 50 Ys will offer the YDPP, the company projected.

Walgreens had been selected by the managed care organization UnitedHealth Group to participate in the alliance. In its role as a founding partner, Walgreens provided personalized coaching and counseling by trained pharmacists to help patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes manage their condition and improve adherence to their physicians’ treatment plans. Walgreens pharmacists — or, in selected markets, Take Care Health Systems nurse practitioners — provided diabetes education and behavioral intervention, risk-factor reduction, health promotion and regular examinations for early signs of complications, all in the convenient setting of a local pharmacy. UnitedHealth Group covered the services at no charge to plan participants enrolled in employer-provided health insurance plans, marking the first time in the country that a health plan paid for evidence-based diabetes prevention and control programs.

Winners will receive awards from the secretary of health and human services at a public recognition ceremony and will have the opportunity to present their innovations at a national conference in 2011.

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