Schools promote healthy lifestyle to prevent diabetes
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented with a healthy diet, exercise
Being surrounded by blooming flowers, ripe tomatoes and other seasonal vegetables is teaching children in many schools how to eat healthy and grow their own food. Research has shown that garden programs can increase not only students’ knowledge of nutrition but can increase their consumption of fruits and vegetables, according to Bridging the Gap Research.
According to the American Diabetes Association, maintaining a healthy body weight can lower the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The California Department of Public Health is part of several activities that support the primary prevention of diabetes by promoting healthy eating, increased exercise along with maintaining a healthy body weight.
Many programs have been introduced to improve the overall health of Americans. Several have been put into place to specifically prevent the onset of Type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is not yet preventable because it’s genetic, although the likelihood of developing Type 2 diabetes can be decreased with a healthy lifestyle.
Diabetes on the rise
One in 11 American adults has diabetes. The disease can lead to an increased risk of serious health problems such as amputation, heart attack and kidney failure, according to the American Diabetes Association.
According to the Butte County 2015 Community Health Assessment, the rate of adults diagnosed with diabetes has been increasing. Adults aged 55 and over have the highest percentage of new cases due to the decreased level of physical activity, loss of muscle mass and increase in weight.
Diabetes is a disease that affects millions of Californians. More than 2 million Californians have been diagnosed with diabetes, 1.9 million of them were diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes, according to the California Department of Public Health.
Other groups with a high chance of developing Type 2 diabetes include people over the age of 65, from an ethnic minority, have lower education attainment or from a low income family.
Nine percent of the adult population in Butte County has been diagnosed with some type of diabetes while 17 percent of the population that is 65 years old and over has been diagnosed. These rates are consistent with national numbers, according to the Butte County 2015 Community Health Assessment.
Sage Garden Project
The Sage Garden Project was founded to reduce the incidence of diabetes by promoting healthy eating in schools.
The program is available mainly through elementary schools across California. The teachers in charge of the program teaches children how to garden, cook and the science behind the activities.
The Sage Garden Project targets schools that have a large minority population because they have a tendency to develop diabetes, according to Dawn Mayeda, the press contact for the Sage Garden Project.
“The cooking element is really important because it completes the cycle,” Mayeda said. The project looks at the garden as a big science lab and help them learn about reproduction, pollination and soil composition.
The cooking element transforms the produce grown in the garden into food. The Sage Garden doesn’t only help students learn about nutrition, but they learn about science as well.
“We have parents constantly saying ‘how did you get my daughter to eat anything green, how did you get her to eat swiss cheese?’” Mayeda said. In a third grade class, the project got students to eat sardines and the students were excited to try sardines, even though not all of them liked sardines in the end.
The program is primarily vegetarian and nut free, but sometimes canned tuna and sardines are brought to the classrooms because they are nutritious, Mayeda said.There are 25 schools up and down California that participate in the project. Hooker Oak Elementary School in Chico is one them.
Laurie Niles, the garden teacher at Hooker Oak Elementary, found out about the Sage Garden Project through the Edible Schoolyard, which aims to provide gardens and kitchens as interactive classrooms.
“The Sage Garden Project filled the gap (funds and materials) for providing cooking from the garden and instructing cooking with students,” Niles said. The school received funding in spring of 2015.
“(There is) no doubt you would find eager, engaged students awaiting their turn in the garden classroom,” Niles said. Each grade level visits at least once a month and uses the cooking lab once a month, as well.
Butte County Nutrition Education Programs
Butte County has a variety of nutrition education programs that are funded by SNAP-Education.
“All of (the programs) target low income families and students,” said Jona Pressman, the program manager at the Butte County Cooperative Extension Office.
The programs are designed to provide education and increase people’s knowledge of resources and how to save money and how to eat healthy, Pressman said.
“We’re always looking for new ways to improve on intervention models,” Pressman said. The programs monitors the school cafeteria, the playground and access to fruits and vegetables.
SNAP-Ed is a program that aims to help people live healthier. The program teaches people that are eligible for Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, which is the food-purchasing assistance program for low income individuals or families in the U.S., about being physically active, nutrition and how to make their food dollars stretch further.
According to the SNAP-Ed Evaluation Framework, California’s local and federal funding provides enrichment services in 4,500 SNAP-Ed eligible afterschool programs. The implementation of these programs has shown positive changes in health behaviors.
The Journal of Clinical and Applied Research and Education published a diabetes care edition that showed a lifestyle interventions study that showed the results of changing lifestyle behaviors.
One of the approaches mentioned in the edition, the Diabetes Prevention Program, showed that a lifestyle change could reduce the rate of type 2 diabetes by 58 percent over three years. Follow-up studies showed a reduction in the rate of prediabetics becoming diabetic by 34 percent over 10 years in the U.S. Participants in the study reduced their caloric intake, participated in 150 minutes per week of physical activity while maintaining 7 percent weight loss from their initial body weight.
What can you do
Because one-in-three Americans is at a high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, reducing chances of developing diabetes is important. Eating healthy, exercising regularly and controlling weight can prevent or delay the onset of diabetes.
Garden programs in schools are becoming more popular, according to Bridging the Gap Research. Spending time in gardens is encouraging children at a young age to eat healthy which can prevent major health problems, including type 2 diabetes, in the future.