Nutrition education with a food label focus helps diabetics over 65 meet treatment goals

University Park, Pa. --- A new intense, 10-session nutrition education program, with a food label focus, developed by researchers at Penn State and the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, has been shown to help diabetic adults, age 65 and older, improve their eating patterns and advance toward meeting their treatment goals.

Dr. Carla Miller, assistant professor of nutrition at Penn State and leader of the study says, "Changing what you eat at any age is difficult and changing after age 65 can be especially hard. Nevertheless, the men and women in our study, all of whom were 65 years of age or older, not only changed their diets but also had greater improvements in their blood sugar and cholesterol levels than did people who were not counseled through our new approach."

The study, "Nutrition Education Improves Metabolic Outcomes Among Older Adults with Diabetes Mellitus: Results from a Randomized Controlled Trial," is detailed in the current (Feb.) issue of the journal, Preventive Medicine. The authors are Miller; Lesley Edwards, Miller's former graduate student; Dr. Grace Kissling, professor of mathematical sciences UNC-Greensboro; and Laurel Sanville, dietitian, UNC Greensboro.

Miller says there are few nutrition education programs for older diabetic adults. Most programs are designed for the younger adult, or those recently diagnosed with the disease, even though the incidence of diabetes increases with age. Diabetes affects more than 14 percent of the population over age 65. The new program was designed specifically for older adults and offered data in smaller chunks to prevent "information overload." There were 10 weekly sessions lasting one to two hours in which participants were taught how to evaluate the nutrition information on food labels for food purchasing, meal planning and diabetes management. For example, the carbohydrate, fat and cholesterol information on the food label were discussed in the sessions along with produc

Contact: Barbara Hale
Penn State

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