GardenShare

GardenShare

Thursday, June 30, 2016

FOOD BANKS FIGHT DIABETES


Many people who depend on food pantries are not underfed, but are obese and diabetic, experts have found. In 2014, one-third of the 15.5 million households served by Feeding America, the nation’s largest hunger-relief organization, reported that a household member had diabetes. Inconsistent access to food worsens the disease, and so can the offerings at the pantries many low-income people must rely on. A growing body of research links food insecurity to uncontrolled diabetes. Diet is partly to blame: The inexpensive food favored by people stretching their dollars is often low in fiber and rich in carbohydrates, which contribute to obesity and Type 2 diabetes. Even when food bank patrons are aware they have diabetes — and many do know — they are not in a position to turn down free fare. Now researchers have begun pursuing innovative new methods to address Type 2 diabetes among people who rely on food banks.  A randomized trial in San Francisco and two other sites seeks to help patrons gain control of both their diets and Type 2 diabetes. Researchers asked pantry patrons if they wanted their blood sugar checked and, if it was high, whether they wanted to enroll in a six-month program to lower it. (A control group was told to wait six months to begin.) For those who enrolled, a staff member handpicked appropriate food from the bank’s shelves, saying no to prepackaged junk, yes to asparagus and peanut butter. Participants pick up bags of selected food twice a month. They also receive referrals to a primary care physician, classes about diabetes management, and regular blood sugar checks. The initial results have been promising. In a pilot study of nearly 700 food pantry visitors in Texas, California and Ohio, participants with the worst blood sugar readings managed modest improvements in a relatively short time.
Source: New York Times, 6/21/16, Food Banks & Diabetes