Greg Champlin is the instructor of the Hillsborough County Department of Health’s free Prevent T2 program.

Diabetes is a serious but preventable disease that has affected 34.2 million Americans. One in three Americans are considered ‘pre-diabetic.’ I’m one of those one in three.

I come from a long line of amazing cooks and a huge family of foodies. I lost my dad three years ago to a heart attack that was related to diabetes. Before his death, he had suffered three strokes from diabetes, one of which left him blind.

Needless to say, diabetes is always in the back of my mind because I’m overweight, or, as I like to say, “a cute, chubby girl.” My doctor is very concerned about my sugar teetering on pre-diabetes. She said I needed to get serious about losing weight and getting my sugar under control.

I decided to take the free Prevent T2 (type 2 diabetes) offered by the Hillsborough County Department of Health. I started the class last year and lost 20 pounds. I recently re-enrolled again to try and lose more weight, since I gained some ‘pandemic pounds.’

“The Florida Department of Health in Hillsborough County puts on the Prevent T2 diabetes prevention program to aid with our mission to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida,” said Greg Champlin, my Prevent T2 instructor. “Hillsborough County has a higher hospitalization rate for diabetes and a higher percentage of residents who have been told they have been diagnosed with diabetes when compared to the state average. DOH Hillsborough wants to aid individuals diagnosed with pre-diabetes or at risk of developing pre-diabetes from being diagnosed. The Prevent T2 program has been shown to delay or prevent the illness.”

The class is structured in 26 different hourly lessons over a calendar year. There are 16 consecutive lessons, then the class transitions to every other week and then once a month.

“The class is delivered over a platform called GoToMeeting, which is available as an app on phone, tablet or computer,” Champlin said. “GoToMeeting also is available as a dial-in conference call. Participants may choose which option works best for them. Materials are mailed and/or emailed to participants, depending on preference.”

The end goal is to prevent or delay diabetes. To do this, the class focuses on every student losing at least 5 percent of their initial body weight entering the class as well as conducting at least 150 minutes of moderate physical activity on a weekly basis.

“Studies have shown that adhering to these two goals will ultimately aid in the prevention of delay of type 2 diabetes,” Champlin said.

My goal is to lose another 20 pounds or more over the next year with this class. If you would like to register for the free Prevent T2 class, you can register here ProgramInfo@flhealth.gov.