The Edmond Sun


March 15, 2014

Diabetes Center program helps participants lose weight and gain a healthy lifestyle

NORMAN — Three months into 2014, most who resolved to lose weight or lead a healthier lifestyle have long since abandoned those changes, but not so for participants of a relatively new program at the Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma.

 The program is called Small Steps, Big Changes, established by Diabetes Center healthcare professionals as a diabetes prevention program that also empowers participants to live healthier through nutritional planning and exercise education.

 “Diabetes can overwhelm those at risk of developing it; but it can be prevented with a few changes to a person’s diet and by becoming more physically active,” said Steve Sternlof, Ph.D., licensed psychologist at Harold Hamm Diabetes Center. “Educating people to prevent diabetes through a healthy lifestyle is the closest thing we have to curing it.”

 Sternlof and his colleagues at the Diabetes Center believed the program could have a major impact on those who participated and would translate into increased healthcare savings for all involved, including the state of Oklahoma.  They were right on both counts.

 Floyd Brassfield is a prime example of its success for participants. He enrolled in the Small Steps, Big Changes program to gain a new perspective on healthy living, but it’s what he lost that has been his biggest reward.

 “Since joining the program, I have lost over 42 pounds and continue to lose weight on a weekly basis. The knowledge and accountability my coaches offer in this program has had a major impact on how I think about food, nutrition, and overall health,” Brassfield said.

 The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation issued a report last year that noted a five percent reduction in body mass index, on average, for Oklahomans, would mean a reduction in the state’s healthcare costs of $7.4 billion by 2030.

 “If we could help people lose weight, we knew we could not only prevent diabetes but also a number of obesity-related health issues. It was a natural fit for us to help curb the diabetes and obesity epidemics,” said Sternlof.  

 According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, the risk for developing diabetes drops by 58 percent if a person can reduce his or her body weight by seven to ten percent. Floyd accomplished this goal by week eight of the program.  

 “I joined the program because I have a family history of type 2 diabetes and wanted to avoid gastric bypass surgery, something I thought was going to be my last option,” he said.

 Floyd credits the 16-week course with teaching him how to plan a healthy meal, read food labels more accurately, and replace high calorie foods with healthy alternatives.  

 “I’ve been a part of weight loss programs in the past, but this one has taught me to think differently about food and has given me an incentive to stop dieting and start living with a different mentality about what I eat,” he said.

 The Diabetes Center hopes the program can help turn around some sobering statistics in Oklahoma, which currently ranks fourth in the nation for diabetes prevalence. Diabetes-related healthcare costs to the state top $3.25 billion per year, according to the Oklahoma State  Department of Health.

 The Small Steps, Big Changes curriculum was developed by the Diabetes Prevention Program, a Center for Disease Control initiative that has proven to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 60 percent.  

 “If we can prevent diabetes before it begins to affect more people, we can effectively save lives and save millions of dollars in healthcare costs,” Sternlof added.

 To learn more about the Small Steps, Big Changes program, visit the center’s website at or call  271-5624. Sessions are offered during the morning, afternoon, and evening.      

 The Harold Hamm Diabetes Center at the University of Oklahoma is a world leader in eradicating diabetes through innovative research focused on progress toward a cure, dramatically improved patient care, and strategies aimed at the prevention of diabetes.

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