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February 25, 2021

Bunnell, Fla. - In late January, the Florida Department of Health in Flagler County (DOH-Flagler) achieved a major milestone for its Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), full recognition from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). This designation is reserved for programs that effectively deliver a quality, evidence-based diabetes prevention program and meet all the standards of CDC recognition.

The health department's diabetes education program started in 2019 to address and reduce the incidence of prediabetes in Flagler County. And since that time, DOH-Flagler's Diabetes Prevention team, led by program coordinator Melissa Phillips, has worked to build the program and achieve this recognition.

"A few years ago, diabetes wasn't being addressed in our community sufficiently. We recognized this as an opportunity, found the right team to kickstart diabetes prevention and self-management programs, and got to work," said Robert Snyder, health administration for the health department. "We solicited physician referrals, recruited participants, followed recommended curriculum, coached clients, hosted interactive classes, monitored progress, tracked outcomes, and submitted data. Now both programs have achieved the industry recognition and accreditation necessary for us to continue making a huge difference in the lives of the clients we serve."

Nearly 14% of adults in Flagler have been told they have diabetes, compared with the statewide average of 12% according to data from Florida Community Health Assessment Resource Tool Set (CHARTS). And since 25 percent of Flagler's adults are considered obese (matching the state average in 2016), there is a likelihood that the rate of newly diagnosed diabetes clients will rise in the future. Diabetes is now recognized as the seventh leading cause of death with heart disease, kidney disease, and stroke being the resulting complications from uncontrolled blood glucose levels.

DOH-Flagler's Diabetes Prevention Program is available for persons who are diagnosed with pre-diabetes or who are at-risk for diabetes. Risk factors include being overweight or obese; being 45 years or older; having a parent, brother, or sister with type 2 diabetes; being physically active less than 3 times a week; ever having gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy) or giving birth to a baby who weighed more than 9 pounds and having polycystic ovary syndrome. Risks increase with age and certain races are more susceptible to diabetes than others. Classes meet for one year and consist of interactive discussions and activities to teach participants the tools and skills they need to prevent type 2 diabetes. Students commit to modifying their behaviors, losing 5% to 7% of their body weight, and tracking 150 minutes of exercise each week. For more information about upcoming classes call Melissa Phillips at 386-313-7264.

The Flagler Health Department also offers Diabetes Self-Management Education classes, accredited by the American Association of Diabetes Educators and led by Alana Shawah. These classes require a physician's referral and are designed to help those living with diabetes avoid medical complications and live healthier lives.

If you, a friend, or a loved one, are living with or trying to prevent diabetes, please call the DOH-Flagler County at 386-313-7263 or 7264 for information about classes.


About the Florida Department of Health

The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts.

Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. You may also learn more at

For information about the local health department, go to, call 386-437-7350, or visit 301 Dr. Carter Blvd. in Bunnell. You can also listen to our weekly talk radio show "Flagler Health Matters," Saturdays at 11:30AM, airing on WNZF News Radio 94.9FM or streaming at