UBC Okanagan and YMCA collaborate to tackle pre-diabetes

Tackle diabetes before it hits

A new partnership between UBC Okanagan and the YMCA aims to tackle pre-diabetes through an evidence-based lifestyle program.

The type 2 diabetes prevention program, Small Steps for Big Changes, will be brought to three new Kelowna locations in 2020 after a successful pilot in the Okanagan.

If all goes to plan, the aim is to pursue further expansion to new communities over the next two years. 

UBC Okanagan associate professor Mary Jung says adhering to a healthy diet and regular exercise is beneficial for all, but critical for the six million Canadians living with pre-diabetes.

“Research has shown that taking steps towards simple lifestyle changes, such as increasing your physical activity and enjoying a healthy meal plan, significantly decrease your risks of developing type 2 diabetes.

“The goal of our partnership is to help prevent the development of type 2 diabetes in those at risk by providing a program that is accessible. The inspiration for the Small Steps for Big Changes initiative was to support those living with pre-diabetes, and more importantly, to help empower them to maintain their diet and exercise behaviours.”

The memorandum of understanding between Jung and YMCA Okanagan chief executive Sharon Peterson was signed in late 2019. 

Peterson says the Small Steps for Big Changes program aligns perfectly with YMCA's mission. 

“As a charity dedicated to creating a healthy community for all, the YMCA ensures that every member has equal access to YMCA programs. Our partnership with UBC is a natural alignment between two organizations who care about and are committed to improving the health of all community members.”

To find out more information about the program and new locations it will be offered, visit the website

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