Research Keeps Prediabetics From Getting Type 2 Diabetes

Published December 3, 2019

Researchers at the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences are attempting to prevent those with prediabetes from developing Type 2 diabetes.

Program Incorporates Behavior Change

“The Healthy Habits Behavioral Program incorporates diet, activity and a powerful behavior change program to help participants lose weight and keep it off. ”
Mathew J. Biondolillo
Postdoctoral associate in the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory, Department of Pediatrics

Mathew J. Biondolillo, PhD

“The Healthy Habits Behavioral Program incorporates diet, activity and a powerful behavior change program to help participants lose weight and keep it off,” says Mathew J. Biondolillo, PhD, a postdoctoral researcher in the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory in the Department of Pediatrics and the coordinator of the study.

The goal of the researchers is to assess the effectiveness of the program, which is funded by the National Institutes of Health and is being conducted at UB and Virginia Tech.

Losing Weight is Critical in Preventing Disease

Leonard H. Epstein, PhD

Prediabetes is a condition in which a patient’s blood sugar is higher than normal but not high enough to be considered diabetic. Researchers know that 80 percent of people with prediabetes will go on to develop Type 2 diabetes. Losing weight is a critical factor in preventing the disease.

Developed by Leonard H. Epstein, PhD, SUNY Distinguished Professor of pediatrics and chief of the Division of Behavioral Medicine, the program has, in previous studies, resulted in participants losing an average of 20 pounds over six months. Epstein, an internationally known expert on obesity, is director of the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory.

The first group to start the program has seen an average weight loss of 16 pounds after staying in the program for 12 weeks, with a reduction in hemoglobin A1C, a type of blood glucose measurement.

“We know that preventing Type 2 diabetes is possible, but it requires that patients understand which behaviors they need to change and how to make those behavioral changes last. Our program does both,” Biondolillo says.

Each Participant Works With a Case Manager

The program is free to eligible participants, who must be prediabetic (as assessed in the lab with a finger-stick blood draw), have a body mass index of greater than 25, are not taking certain medications that may cause abnormal blood glucose levels, and meet other criteria.

A screening questionnaire to assess eligibility is available.

Participation in the program involves attending 13 group sessions over six months at the Behavioral Medicine Laboratory on UB’s South Campus.

They will also be assigned a case manager who will work with them on how to handle challenging situations, troubleshoot how to make healthy lifestyle changes and provide support. Blood pressure, cholesterol and hemoglobin A1C will be assessed several times throughout the six months.

More information on the study can be obtained by watching the video that accompanies this story and by contacting study personnel by phone at 716-829-2445 or by email at