St. Bernards has received a grant from American Data Network to implement a program to improve the current and future health of elementary school-age Hispanic children in Craighead County.
The $5,000 award – the only ADN grant presented in Arkansas – will be used to identify Hispanic children who are overweight and/or obese and at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure and to teach them how to make relatively simple changes in their eating and other lifestyle habits that will improve their long-term health.
Through a six-month long program, staff at the St. Bernards Center for Diabetes Management will work with personnel at Hispanic Community Services Inc. in Jonesboro, teaching youngsters in grades K-6 how to make “good” food choices that will help them achieve and maintain good body weight. Students also will learn the importance of physical activity as they make healthy lifestyle choices.
The program will target approximately 30 youngsters who take part in the after school tutoring program at Hispanic Community Services, and participants will take part in free health screenings to measure blood glucose, blood pressure, height and weight.
A secondary target will be families of the participants. They will be encouraged to engage in take-home activities.
Curriculum will be developed to give students and their families tools to use in adopting healthier lifestyles. Classes will be held twice a month to help students understand the importance of the role of nutrition in preventing and/or managing diabetes. Classes will be in a high energy format conducted at the Hispanic Center during the regular after-school program.
Diabetes has become one of the most common chronic diseases among children in this country. And more and more, children are being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes – something formerly referred to as “adult-onset diabetes” and usually diagnosed after the age of 40.
Today, healthcare professionals are seeing what many term an “epidemic” of Type 2 diabetes, something that represents a serious public health problem, with the full effect most likely to be felt when youngsters become adults and develop long-term complications of diabetes. Those complications predispose diabetics to greater chances of dying from heart disease, stroke and kidney disease.
Data from the Centers for Disease Control shows that diabetes disproportionately affects Hispanic populations, with Hispanics nearly twice as likely to develop diabetes over their lifetime as non-Hispanic whites. Type 2 diabetes represents more than 46 percent of all newly diagnosed cases of diabetes in Hispanic youth. A decade ago, more than 43 percent of Hispanics ages 12-19 were overweight … and nearly 24 percent were obese. Those rates were approximately twice that of non-Hispanic whites.
If the current trend continues, one in three Americans – and nearly one in two minorities – born in 2000 will develop diabetes. The program being developed by St. Bernards will target that specific group.
Studies have shown that diabetes often can be prevented or managed to avoid complications. An important part of any preventive program is the implementation of lifestyle changes.
Staff at the St. Bernards Center for Diabetes Management will work with Gina Gomez, executive director of Hispanic Community Services, in developing the program. Diabetes management specialists will be responsible for teaching. Topics to be covered will be the USDA food pyramid, learning to read food labels, learning to identify sources of whole grains, learning to identify lean protein and understanding fats in the diet. Healthy snacks will be served at each session. Students will receive pedometers and will be encouraged to track their physical activity.
Another component of the program will be the development during the program of a “healthy menu cookbook.” Youngsters will be asked to bring some of their families’ favorite recipes, and those recipes will be modified to include healthier ingredients and/or preparation methods. The cookbooks will be printed both in English and in Spanish, and each participant will receive a copy of the book
Classes will begin in late November and continue through April.
Data collected during the program will be used to demonstrate the value of taking evidence-based health education directly to young people at risk for chronic disease. Post-testing will document what changes the participants make in the way of better food and lifestyle choices.
American Data Network is a firm which provides healthcare professionals with current, actionable information needed to maximize efficiency, improve quality of care and support business decisions. It has received designation as one of only two patient safety organizations in Arkansas.