Blue Cross NC, NC State team on diabetes prevention program

A nutrition label with a salad in the background
Blue Cross NC and NC State are teaming up on a new diabetes program. (Brian A Jackson/Shutterstock)

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina is joining forces with North Carolina State University to roll out a new virtual program that aims to prevent type 2 diabetes.

The "Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes" (ESMMPD) program is a 12-month, online initiative developed by the university that focuses on healthy eating, stress management, weight loss and physical activity to prevent diabetes. It is recognized by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Similar programs have reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%, Blue Cross NC said.

“Diabetes is one of the most prevalent health issues facing North Carolinians today,” said Von Nguyen, M.D., chief medical officer at Blue Cross NC, in a statement. “By giving members the tools to stop type 2 diabetes before it starts, we’re working towards our goal of more affordable, better health care for all North Carolinians.”

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Blue Cross NC has since 2005 operated a similar program, called "Eat Smart, Move More, Weigh Less," that achieved notable, and ongoing, financial savings. Members who completed the program in 2016 saved an average of $972 per year between 2016 and 2019.

Average weight loss was 10 pounds and the program has a 98% satisfaction rate, Blue Cross NC said.

The insurer said it is reaching out proactively to members with prediabetes or who are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes to enroll them in ESMMPD in an effort to prevent a type 2 diabetes diagnosis. More than 3.7 million people in North Carolina have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, Blue Cross NC said.

“We are thrilled to be able to offer ESMMPD to more people thanks to the coverage from Blue Cross NC. We know that too many North Carolinians have prediabetes," said Carolyn Dunn, Ph.D., William Neal Reynolds Distinguished Professor Emerita at NC State and Eat Smart, Move More, Prevent Diabetes Principal Investigator, in a statement. "We also know that they can prevent type 2 diabetes by participating in this structured lifestyle-change program."

"We are here to help with trained lifestyle coaches that know how to help people make meaningful changes to their eating and physical activity habits. A diabetes-free life is possible," Dunn said.