Originally published in The Daily Journal
Last week, the 2014 New Jersey state report titled “Providing Access to Healthy Solutions — An Analysis of New Jersey’s Opportunities to Enhance Prevention and Management of Type 2 Diabetes” was released.
The report, written by PATHS (Providing Access to Healthy Solutions), an initiative led by the Center for Health Law and Policy Innovation of Harvard Law School (CHLPI), provides an overview of the landscape of type 2 diabetes in New Jersey, where approximately 700,000 individuals live with the disease and many others are at risk for developing it, including children. New Jersey ranks No. 3 in the nation for obesity among low-income children ages 2 to 5, of whom 16.6 percent are obese. In Cumberland County, the prevalence of obesity is 33.4 percent. These children are at greater risk of receiving a diabetes diagnosis in their future. This new report is a welcome look at how government and community agencies can come together to implement health care and prevention strategies that address type 2 diabetes in New Jersey.
Government and community-based organizations were interviewed over 18 months to obtain information for inclusion in the report. Last week, individuals from those organizations attended the New Jersey Diabetes Leadership Forum at the Trenton War Memorial to discuss the report’s findings and how we can work together to make an impact and change the tide of diabetes.
Senate President Stephen Sweeney spoke during the forum on the need for collaboration as well as policy change to create healthier communities. Christene Dewitt-Parker, coordinator for School Health at the New Jersey Department of Education, spoke about the role of our schools and the need to help students prevent and manage diabetes. There were many other guest speakers who provided great insights and promise in the area of preventing and managing type 2 diabetes.
In Vineland, the New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids-Vineland and its partners work together to increase access to affordable, healthy foods and safe places for residents to be active. These partners have created the following outcomes:
The Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA has been a community convener to help reduce obesity in children and families in Cumberland County. In February 2014, the Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA was selected to facilitate the YMCA Diabetes Prevention Program to begin in the spring/summer of this year.
The YMCA’s Diabetes Prevention Program is a year-long program with 16 weekly sessions followed by 8 monthly sessions. In a relaxed classroom setting, a trained Lifestyle Coach helps participants learn skills that will help them incorporate healthy eating, increasing physical activity, and other behavior changes into their everyday lives. The goals of the program are 7 percent weight loss and an increase in physical activity to 150 minutes per week.
To be eligible for this program, participants must be at least 18 years old with a BMI of 25 or greater and at risk for developing type 2 diabetes or have been diagnosed with prediabetes. Youth under 18 and people diagnosed with diabetes do not qualify. A Y membership is not required for participation.
The PATHS report on New Jersey’s type 2 diabetes issues provides several recommendations, including:
• Addressing how to make fruits and vegetables affordable to people in many of our low-income communities
• Helping them gain access to healthy foods in the community and at school.
• Making communities conducive to healthy, active living; and providing access to diabetes prevention and management services
• Enhancing care coordination for Medicaid/Family Care enrollees.
Actions taken around these recommendations can truly make a difference in our state and our community. It is time for us to step up our efforts in preventing and managing diabetes in New Jersey, and it starts right here in our community.
Editor’s note: A copy of the full report can be found at http://bit.ly/1lmFwy1.)
Cumberland Cape Atlantic YMCA
New Jersey Partnership for Healthy Kids—Vineland
Contact Us: 609-278-9622
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