San Diego American Indian Health Center Collaborates with Skinny Gene Project on Diabetes Prevention Program

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San Diego American Indian Health Center (SDAIHC) has entered into a collaboration with the Skinny Gene Project, a division of J. Moss Foundation, to help ensure that Native Americans living in San Diego have the opportunity to learn how to prevent diabetes. This is particularly crucial to Native Americans and Native Alaskans who have a 2.3 times greater likelihood of acquiring diabetes than the non-Hispanic white population.

Noelle Lipkin Leveque, SDAIHC Community Diabetes Educator, noted that 9 out of 10 people do not know that they have prediabetes.  This diagnosis indicates that an individual’s blood sugar level is too high and he or she is at a higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” she said. “However, the onset of type 2 diabetes can be delayed or even avoided with careful attention to diet and exercise, which is the focus of our Diabetes Prevention Program.”

American Indian and Alaska Native youth aged 15 – 19 saw a 110% increase in type 2 diabetes from 1990 – 2009 according to the federal government’s Indian Health Service Division of Diabetes. The Skinny Gene Project is the first organization in San Diego to bring the Center for Disease Control (CDC) -based Diabetes Prevention Program to San Diego.

According to Marlayna D. Bollinger, Executive Director of the Skinny Gene Project, the program is a lifestyle modification program, in which participants learn how to incorporate healthy behaviors into their unique lifestyle.  Our hope is to teach Diabetes Prevention Program providers, like those at the San Diego American Indian Health Center, to avoid the many pitfalls that can threaten the success of the program.

“Participants,” she said, “will learn how to eat to prevent type 2 diabetes in a fun and supportive environment. They will receive accountability and guidance for an entire year to ensure the small changes they make have a long-lasting effect on their health.” She added, “The goal is to pass the wisdom of prevention from our organization, to leaders at SDAIHC, to the community for one generation to the next. Soon, the graduates of the DPP will not just become peer advocates for prevention, but also lifestyle coaches themselves, creating a new community tradition of prevention.”

The free Diabetes Prevention Program for Natives, with an estimated start date of September 6, 2016, will meet on Tuesdays, 6:00 p.m. in SDAIHC’s Community Kitchen, located at 2630 1st Ave, San Diego. 

Each week participants learn about healthy eating, physical activity, and weight management in a fun and supportive environment that encourages lifestyle changes that can sharply reduce the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes Healthy food and recipes will be provided at every class, along with the opportunity to win gift cards and other incentives. Orientation sessions will be offered either on August 16th or August 23rd at 6:00 p.m.  Interested participants can register by contacting Chamese Dempsey at (619) 234-1521 or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


About the San Diego American Indian Health Center

The San Diego American Indian Health Center is a patient-centered health home that provides comprehensive medical, dental, behavioral health, and community wellness services that are available to all San Diegans. Founded in May 1979, we honor the wisdom of community leaders who believed urban American Indians living in our city should have community-based health care rooted in traditional cultural values. The vision of our founders lives on after nearly forty years as we continue to grow and provide high quality health care services to a diverse community of all ages and walks of life. For additional information, please visit

About the Skinny Gene Project

The Skinny Gene Project is a division of the J. Moss Foundation that addresses the environment-based issues, or social atmospheres, that affect a person’s ability to prevent diabetes. Our organization shapes an individual’s environment so their decision to improve their health is met with guidance and encouragement, and their first step forward is not their last.  For additional information, please visit

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