Communication Home
Ohio University offers free healthy lifestyles programs for employees diagnosed with diabetes or pre-diabetes

(ATHENS, Ohio – August 27, 2013) Recently diagnosed with pre-diabetes, Tammy Babylon, a 47-year old Ohio University graduate student, was scared. Just as she was about to start taking medication, Karen Bailey, a lifestyle coach and Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE) at University Medical Associates Diabetes/Endocrine Care and Research Center, suggested Babylon begin their National Diabetes Prevention Program (NDPP). The results were dramatic.

“Karen Bailey and the NDPP changed my life,” said Babylon. After following the  program, attending weekly meetings and adopting new healthy behaviors, Babylon turned her life around. Sixteen pounds lighter and exercising regularly, she now enjoys sharing healthy meals with her family. To top it all, she did not have to start medication.

Ohio University Human Resources is partnering with the Diabetes Institute at Ohio University and the Diabetes/Endocrine Care and Research Center to offer OHIO employees two new, unique wellness programs. The first, the NDPP, is for those diagnosed as having pre-diabetes. The second, Diabetes Boot Camp, helps those diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.

UHR will cover the registration costs for those who qualify for the programs.

“It’s a priority for us to further a culture of wellness on campus,” said Greg Fialko, director of benefits at Ohio University. “We have some of the best diabetes care and education professionals in the country here in Athens.”

Fialko explained that diabetes is one of the top five chronic conditions within the university’s health plan, costing at least $800,000 per year. “Offering these kinds of programs benefits everyone. We want to provide opportunities for our faculty and staff to improve their health and quality of life. And we believe these programs can help reduce costs through prevention and better management of the conditions.”

In the NDPP, lifestyle coaches work with the 20 participants at their weekly meetings to provide education, support and tools to achieve personal goals and make meaningful lifestyle changes. During the first 18-weeks of the session, each participant lost an average of 11.7 pounds.

Diabetes Boot Camp is a 12-week program based on the concept of the “living classroom,” combining a range of lifestyle education classes with exercise and fitness, explained Carole Merckle, a Certified Diabetes Educator (CDE)and lifestyle coach at the Diabetes/Endocrine Care and Research Center. The program accepts up to 20 participants, who meet three times a week at the Athens Community Center.

“There’s an important fun element to the program,” said Merckle. Participants learn about the lifestyle changes needed to improve and manage their health. Activities include individualized exercise plans, cooking demonstrations, grocery store tours and lessons on food preparation. Merckle chose the name “Boot Camp” because it emphasized the fitness and exercise aspect of the program and the gains made through group activities and social support. They are working hard, and they’re doing it together, she explained.

“It is challenging to make the lifestyle changes needed to improve health,” said Merckle. “The support, attitude and ’can do’ spirit people bring to the classes create a strong bond between them. They stay motivated once they’ve completed the program, even when the temptation to revert to old, unhealthy habits can be strong.”

Merckle said that weight loss isn’t a primary goal of either program, but the emphasis on nutrition, healthy eating, fitness and exercise makes weight loss possible. Last year, a pilot group lost a minimum of 7 percent of their body weight, and often more. When participants see the results of their efforts – weight loss, increased fitness, reduced blood glucose levels – they become even more motivated, which enhances the likelihood of staying the course and making long-term changes.

“Education is key to prevent people from developing type 2 diabetes,” said Jay Shubrook, D.O., director of the Diabetes/Endocrine Care and Research Center. “A lot of people are overwhelmed, and simply don’t know what to do. We’re here to help them. We want to help people who are ready to act.”

New sessions for both programs begin on Sept. 9. For information about Boot Camp (those with type 2 diabetes), contact Carole Merckle at 740-566-4872 or For the NDPP (pre-diabetes program), contact Karen Bailey at740-566-4877 or

The next cohort for each program will begin again in January 2014.
  Office of Communication
Ohio University Heritage College of Osteopathic Medicine
210 Irvine Hall, Athens, Ohio 45701
Tel: 740-593-2346 FAX: 740-593-0343
Copyright Ohio University (Home)
Last updated: 01/28/2016