June 03, 2014

Sun Life Teams Up with YMCA of Greater Kansas City to Support YMCA's Diabetes Prevention Program at Regional Diabetes Summit

Event featured keynote speech by Dr. Ron Z. Goetzel from Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

Program to help Missouri & Kansas communities, which are at higher risk for diabetes than the national average

WELLESLEY, MA (June 3, 2014) The U.S. division of Sun Life Financial Inc. (NYSE: SLF, TSX: SLF) today announced a partnership to support the diabetes prevention initiatives of the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. The collaboration with YMCA of Greater Kansas City is part of Sun Life’s national public awareness campaign on diabetes. Sun Life’s U.S. division pledged $250,000 to YMCA of the USA to help expand its Diabetes Prevention Program, a partnership first launched in Boston earlier this year. The commitment reflects Sun Life Financial’s broader, global effort to prevent diabetes and mitigate the disease’s complications. Sun Life’s international contributions to this initiative include a $10 million commitment in Canada over the last year.

Launched at a regional diabetes prevention summit hosted by the Mid-America Coalition on Health Care at Johnson County Community College, the partnership with the YMCA of Greater Kansas City was announced by Heather Hodge, Director for Chronic Disease Prevention Programs at YMCA of the USA, and Drew Burns, Sun Life Financial Employee Benefits Representative. The event featured keynote speaker Dr. Ron Z. Goetzel, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health Visiting Professor and Director, and Truven Health Analytics VP, Consulting and Applied Research who discussed the total impact of diabetes on personal health, worker productivity, and communities.

“Sun Life Financial recognizes that diabetes poses a critical national public health crisis, and demands our immediate attention,” said Dan Fishbein, President of Sun Life Financial U.S. “Through our partnership with YMCA of the USA, we are aiming to raise awareness of the risk factors associated with diabetes, while providing the resources and information to help members of our community protect what they love most about their lives.”

Although prediabetes affects 79 million people in the U.S., only 11 percent of those with the condition know they are at risk for the disease. People with prediabetes have elevated blood sugar levels, though not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a lifestyle modification program that helps people with pre-diabetes reduce their risk for Type 2 diabetes by helping them learn about and adopt healthier eating habits, increased physical activity, and other behavioral changes.

The year-long program consists of 16 one-hour weekly classroom sessions, followed by eight monthly sessions. A trained lifestyle coach teaches participants strategies for healthy living, physical activity and other lifestyle changes. The program is part of the National Diabetes Prevention Program of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), and is currently available at 882 locations in 41 states.

“Type 2 diabetes still affects countless families, and I’m thrilled that we have been able to expand our program combatting this deadly disease,” said Jessica Velazquez, Wellness Program Manager for the YMCA of Greater Kansas City. "I can’t thank Sun Life enough for their support in helping individuals in our community reduce their risk for developing diabetes through their support of the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program.”

The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program aims to help participants lose 5-7 percent of their body weight through healthy eating, and increase their physical activity by 150 minutes per week. These changes have been shown to reduce new cases of Type 2 diabetes in adults by 58 percent and 71 percent in adults over age 60, according to the National Institutes of Health and the CDC.

Diabetes affects 25.8 million people, or 8.3 percent of the U.S. population, based on the latest data from the CDC, and costs the U.S. an estimated $116 billion in direct medical expenses, according to the American Diabetes Association. From 1980 through 2011, the number of Americans with diagnosed diabetes has more than tripled (from 5.6 million to 20.9 million), according to the CDC data.

The CDC reports that 8.7 percent of Missouri’s adult population was diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, while 5.7 percent were diagnosed with pre-diabetes or high blood sugar levels, placing them at increased risk for developing Type 2 diabetes. This puts Missouri’s population at higher risk of experiencing Type 2 diabetes than the national average. Diabetes is the leading cause of major critical illnesses, including kidney failure and heart disease, as well as many other debilitating, long-term medical conditions, such as blindness, amputations and hypertension.

Sun Life is committed to educating the general population about the benefits of diabetes prevention and raising awareness of achieving and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The company offers dozens of services and programs internally throughout the year that help employees achieve their goals.

For more information about the YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program or to learn your risk for prediabetes, please visit


About Sun Life Financial
Sun Life Financial is a leading international financial services organization providing a diverse range of protection and wealth accumulation products and services to individuals and corporate customers. Sun Life Financial and its partners today have operations in key markets worldwide, including Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom, Ireland, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Japan, Indonesia, India, China, and Bermuda. Sun Life Financial Inc., the holding company for the Sun Life Financial group of companies, is a public company. It is not an insurance company and does not offer insurance products for sale in the United States or elsewhere, and does not guarantee the obligations of its insurance company subsidiaries. Sun Life Financial Inc. trades on the Toronto (TSX), New York (NYSE), and Philippine (PSE) stock exchanges under the ticker symbol SLF. In the United States and elsewhere, insurance products are offered by members of the Sun Life Financial group that are insurance companies. In the United States, Sun Life Financial provides a range of products and services to employers and their employees, including Group and Voluntary Life, Disability, Dental, Critical Illness, Accident, and Stop-Loss insurance products. Product offerings may not be available in all states and may vary depending on state laws and regulations. For more information, please visit

About the YMCA of the USA
YMCA of the USA is the national resource office for the Y, one of the nation’s leading nonprofits strengthening communities through youth development, healthy living, and social responsibility. Across the U.S., 2,700 Ys engage 21 million men, women and children – regardless of age, income or background – to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the nation’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Anchored in more than 10,000 communities, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change.

About the YMCA of Greater Kansas City
With a focus on youth development, healthy living and social responsibility, the YMCA of Greater Kansas City is committed to strengthening communities. The Y engages men, women and children—regardless of age, income or background—to nurture the potential of children and teens, improve the community’s health and well-being, and provide opportunities to give back and support neighbors. Serving the Kansas City area since 1860, the Y has the long-standing relationships and physical presence not just to promise, but to deliver, lasting personal and social change. Visit for more information.

Media contacts:
Keith Gainsboro

Paula Oxler
YMCA of Greater Kansas City

SLPC 25888, 05/14 (exp: 05/19)