KNR alumni spotlight: Exercise science grad reverses type 2 diabetes
Dr. Sarah Dran Hallberg ’94, M.S. ’96, who earned degrees in exercise science and exercise physiology from Illinois State and her Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine from Des Moines University in Iowa in 2002, has directed the medical weight loss program at Indiana University Health in Lafayette, Indiana, since 2012. The goal of the medical weight loss program, both created and directed by Hallberg, is to reverse type 2 diabetes through nutrition, as opposed to surgery and medicine.
According to Hallberg, reversing type 2 diabetes begins with ignoring the guidelines put forth by the American Diabetes Association (ADA). Most people do not realize or believe that type 2 diabetes can be reversed, and that type 1 diabetics can achieve a considerable reduction in medicine, but both of these goals have been achieved by Hallberg’s patients at her medical weight loss program. Her patients follow a diet low in carbohydrates. She recently presented research findings at the National Lipid Association’s conference comparing low carb nutrition versus the ADA dietary interventions for type 2 diabetes. The findings of her research and the success of her patients demonstrate that teaching practical science-based nutrition skills not only saves lives but money too.
Originally board certified in internal medicine, Hallberg has recently achieved the noteworthy distinction as holding a lifestyle trifecta, meaning that she is the only physician in the U.S. with board certifications in obesity medicine, clinical lipidology, and clinical exercise physiology! She has good reason to be passionate about her work. Many view a type 2 diabetes diagnosis as a death sentence, but through successful participation in her program, many patients have reduced or even reversed the diagnosis—all of which is immeasurably satisfying not just to her patients, but to Hallberg as well.
When asked what advice would she would give to new exercise science graduates, she recalled the words of wisdom that her recently departed father always told her: Keep doing what you enjoy, do it the very best you can, and everything will work out. Reflecting on her Illinois State experience, Hallberg noted the monumental role that Professor Dale Brown played in shaping her career because he always believed that she had the gumption to do what she wanted to do with her life. She also acknowledged the influential and supportive roles Professor Karen Dennis played when they worked in cardiac rehabilitation together at BroMenn.
Sarah married Illinois State alum Brad Hallberg ’95 and together they enjoy kayaking, hiking, and biking with their three children Noah (12), Ava (10), and Luna (5).
Listen to Hallberg’s Ted Talk, where she makes the case for carbohydrate restriction in type 2 diabetes.