New Diabetes Prevention Program Launched in San Diego

Champions for Health, a local nonprofit formerly known as the San Diego County Medical Society Foundation, has announced it has entered into a collaboration with YMCA of San Diego County for the launch of “Jump Start for Health,” a new type 2 diabetes prevention program throughout San Diego County.

According to Barbara Mandel, Champions for Health CEO, Jump Start for Health will focus on diabetes prevention with onsite weekly group meetings, nutrition counseling and personalized coaching for selected members of the Toby Wells YMCA, 5105 Overland Ave., San Diego.  Over the next year, the program will be offered at other YMCA locations and community sites, Mandel said. Participating members will include adults at risk of developing type 2 diabetes due to family history, weight, age and environmental factors.

“Instead of focusing on dieting, our Jump Start program will help participants identify their personal barriers to success,” Mandel said. “Then, we will guide them in creating an action plan to navigate around these obstacles so they can improve their health. Jump Start will promote diabetes prevention without prescription medication intervention. The curriculum has proven successful for a large population of participants who choose to stay with the program for at least eight weeks. It’s our desire to expand the Jump Start for Health program throughout the San Diego community in new locations.”

Mandel said Jump Start for Health follows the whole person approach to diabetes prevention developed by the Skinny Gene Project, a nonprofit that specializes in helping those at-risk make the necessary lifestyle changes to prevent type 2 diabetes. The Skinny Gene Project is the first organization in San Diego County and the third in the state of California to receive full recognition from the federal government’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), according to Marlayna Bollinger, Skinny Gene Project founder and executive director.

“Full recognition is awarded to organizations that have met the standards of the CDC and prevent the development of pre-diabetes into type 2 diabetes,” said Bollinger. “We have proven that we can cut a person’s risk for developing type 2 diabetes by at least 58 percent. Our program can help add more years and quality of life. Participants will learn in a fun and supportive environment how to incorporate healthy behaviors into their unique lifestyle using the CDC’s evidence-based curriculum. We’re very excited to collaborate with Champions for Health to implement the Jump Start for Health program to achieve sustained lifestyle changes.”

Founded in 2005, Champions for Health offers several health improvement and prevention initiatives that improve community health and wellness, access to care for all and support for physicians through engaged volunteerism. Its flagship program, Project Access San Diego, links volunteer specialist doctors with uninsured people who need healthcare services and cannot afford specialty surgeries. Other Champions for Health programs include free screenings for breast cancer, colorectal cancer and high blood pressure, along with flu immunizations, a speakers bureau and scholarships for medical students and residents planning to care for the medically underserved. For more information, visit or