One in 10 Americans has diabetes, increasing risk for heart disease, blindness and kidney disease, and one-third have prediabetes, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Two Oklahoma State University nutritional sciences professors are part of a team receiving recognition for their work to address the problem through education and awareness.
The CDC’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) trains community leaders to build prediabetes awareness and promote healthy habits. Dr. Janice Hermann and Dr. Lauren Amaya are members of a Cooperative Extension National DPP (CE-NDPP) Interest Group working to train Cooperative Extension professionals in 18 states. The CE-NDPP Interest Group recently won the national Excellence in Multi-State Collaboration Award at the National Extension Association of Family and Consumer Sciences (NEAFCS) convention.
“We believe Cooperative Extension is well-positioned to address the goal of the National DPP to make it easier for people with prediabetes to participate in affordable, high-quality lifestyle change programs,” said Hermann, nutritional sciences professor and Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service (OCES) Adult and Older Adult Nutrition Specialist.
DPP has involved community leaders from numerous organizations since its 2010 launch by the CDC. Amaya believes Cooperative Extension personnel serve a unique niche in facilitating DPP programs. She hopes CE-NDPP helps elevate Cooperative Extension’s voice.
“Despite the best efforts of national DPP leaders, many areas still do not have access to DPP, and many at-risk groups are not being reached,” Amaya, a teaching assistant professor, said. “Cooperative Extension offices are across the state, enabling us to uniquely position Extension personnel to reach communities previously underserved by DPP.”
A key component of DPP is a structured lifestyle change program promoting healthy eating and physical activity. According to the CDC website, DPP participants who participate in the lifestyle change program and achieve the program’s 5% to 7% weight loss target lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58%. More than a statistic, Megan Anderson, an Oklahoma Cooperative Extension Service, Family and Consumer Sciences (OCES FCS) County Educator and newly trained DPP Lifestyle Coach in Hughes and Seminole counties, has seen this impact firsthand.
“I saw participants rethinking the foods they bought because they had a new hope for the future of their health,” Anderson said. “They were really learning about the amount of calories that were in their foods and were starting to look at food differently.”
The program is making a clear impact in Oklahoma. So far, 12 county educators have been trained as DPP Lifestyle Coaches.
Amaya’s and Hermann’s efforts build on a larger legacy of Cooperative Extension to promote community health and wellbeing. From adult education to youth programming and informational factsheets, Cooperative Extension programming fits into the larger land-grant mission of outreach, research and education.
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