A Stanford-developed program aimed at empowering teens to help curb the growing problem of diabetes in the United States has been selected as a finalist for the 2011 Healthy Living Innovation Awards.
Diabetes Coaches, which is featured in the above video, trains high-school students to become diabetes self-management coaches for loved ones. Students receive rigorous instruction on nutrition, healthy meal planning, physical activity, healthy weight maintenance, stress reduction and developing partnerships with healthcare providers. The eight-week course emphasizes communication skills, active problem solving techniques, and goal setting through action plans.
Data collected during the project implementation showed (.pdf) the program increased students' diabetes knowledge, interactions with diabetic family members in a positive way and physical activity levels. Additionally, most students expressed that the course dramatically changed the way they ate: They read food labels, made "better choices" about portion sizes and consumed more nutritional foods.
"The increasing amount of chronic illness in the U.S. is the juggernaut that is going to drive our health costs higher and higher," Nancy Morioka-Douglas, MD, who spearheaded Diabetes Coaches, recently told me. "By expanding the community capacity to help address and prevent diabetes, in having high schools partner with health care personnel to provide this program, we have a chance of doing something that is spreadable around the country and sustainable."
A new initiative of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the Healthy Living Innovation Awards were created to identify and acknowledge innovative projects that have demonstrated a significant impact on the health status of a community in the areas of healthy weight, physical activity, and nutrition.
Voting for the 2011 Healthy Living Innovation Award ends on Tuesday, May 31. You can cast your vote for Diabetes Coaches here.