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Boston Medical Center receives grant from Astrazeneca to 'end diabetes'

(Boston) In an effort to reduce the risks of diabetes and obesity while improving cardiovascular health, Boston Medical Center (BMC) today announced it has partnered with the YMCA of Greater Boston to form the Exercise and Nutrition to Decrease Diabetes (END Diabetes) Program. The goal of this program is to show that with lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, the risk of cardiovascular disease can be reduced. Funding for the program has been provided by a grant from AstraZeneca Healthcare Foundation. BMC is one of 14 institutions nationwide to receive this inaugural grant as part of the Foundation's Connections for Cardiovascular Health program.

While some chronic conditions such as cardiovascular disease have been on the rise for decades in all segments of the United States, many chronic conditions such as diabetes, heart disease, asthma and obesity are more prevalent for low-income, ethnic minorities.

In Boston for example, 10 percent of Black adults have diabetes, compared with five percent of White adults. In 2007, the diabetes hospitalization rate for Blacks was nearly four times higher than the rate for Asians and Whites. In addition, prior studies have shown that people with lower incomes have a harder time accessing affordable healthy nutrition and exercise programs.

END Diabetes will take place at the East Boston, South End, Roxbury and Dorchester Y's. Each has been identified as being located in and serving communities most in need of cardiovascular health services and health conditions such as diabetes, obesity, reduced access to care and nutrition services that contribute to poor cardiovascular health. The six-month program will offer educational workshops, free YMCA membership, individual coaching and regular exercise sessions for at least 200 adults. As part of this effort, four of BMC's affiliated Boston HealthNet community health centers are referring patients to the END Diabetes program. They include the South End Community Health Center, the East Boston Neighborhood Health Center, Codman Square Health Center and Roxbury Comprehensive Community Health Center.

"As a direct result of the END Diabetes Program, participants will learn how to make positive, permanent lifestyle changes through proper nutrition, increased physical activity, health education, and participation in fitness and alternative wellness programs," said Caroline M. Apovian, MD, Director of the Nutrition and Weight Management Center at BMC and principal investigator of the program."The END Diabetes program will show that with these lifestyle changes and modest weight reduction, a person with pre-diabetic symptoms can prevent or delay the onset of Type 2 diabetes, thus reducing their risk for cardiovascular disease," she added.

"Cardiovascular disease is taking a terrible toll on our families, our communities and our nation," said James W. Blasetto, MD, chairman of the AstraZeneca HealthCare Foundation. "Boston Medical Center is developing creative heart-healthy programs tailored to meet the individual needs of the community."

"Partnering with Boston Medical Center will enable the YMCA to further its mission to support healthy living and help people make lifestyle changes for a better quality of life," added YMCA CEO Kevin Washington.

The program was initially launched as a result of the success of two prior pilot programs that showed that certain lifestyle changes, such as revised diet and exercise, can be successfully implemented through an individualized program to significantly reduce the incidence of diabetes and cardiovascular disease.


Contact: Gina DiGravio
Boston University Medical Center

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