How a Diabetes Workshop Changed a Life

Simply put – it works.

That’s what Loretta Fleming says about a workshop for people with Type 2 Diabetes that has changed her life.

Five years ago, Loretta, who has Type 2 Diabetes, weighed 378 pounds and had an A1C level of 12.4% (the normal level is 5.7% or below).

She learned about a free program offered by Health People, located in the south Bronx, that helps community members learn more about their Diabetes and manage the physical and psychological effects of the disease.

The program is called the Diabetes Self-Management Program (DSMP), a curriculum developed by the Stanford Patient Education Research Center. Loretta enrolled in the seven-week course that was led by two “Peer Leaders,” local residents who also live with Type 2 Diabetes and have been trained and certified to be instructors for the DSMP.

“The Diabetes mortality rate in the Bronx is 50% higher than the state’s rate,” said Chris Norwood, Executive Director, Health People. “Community-based programs like this help people stay healthy and prevent the need for hospital care.”

Once a week, Loretta and about a dozen other people met to learn, share experiences and make weekly action plans such as eating better, measuring their glucose levels, staying active, advocating for themselves and handling the emotions that might drive bad health choices.

Four months after starting the program, Loretta lost 28 pounds and her A1C level went down to 7.8%. She was so excited with her progress that she enrolled her mother who participated in the workshop and lost 42 pounds. “

“Think about it – your doctor can’t spend two-and-a-half hours every week talking to you about your lifestyle, your feelings, whether you read labels on food,” says Loretta. “The program supplies manuals that we read together, nutritious snacks and an atmosphere to learn, really talk and share what’s going on in your life. The group experience makes a big difference.”

Today, Loretta has lost over 130 pounds and has become a certified as a DSMP Peer Leader. She’s led five DSMP workshops and has personally recruited more than 60 people to take the course.

“Many people have come back and told me the program has changed their lives,” she says. “They are surprised, but I’m not because it changed mine. I told them when they walked in the door – the program works.”

To learn more about DSMP workshops, contact Chris Norwood at