Millwood, Virginia, October 3, 2011

It takes a village to raise awareness about the link between diabetes and childhood obesity in Mexico, according to community health advocates like Consuelo Rodriguez Mora, a champion of Project HOPE’s health education programs that strive to build healthier families, one child at a time.

Diabetes is considered one of the most common chronic diseases in children and adolescents. After years of living with the disease, Consuelo Rodriguez Mora participated in HOPE’s 5 Steps to Self Care, which she credits for her transformation into a Peer Educator for Project HOPE.  She hopes to eradicate society’s fear of testing for diabetes and reverse the nation’s worrying trend of childhood obesity.

“In Mexico, people are afraid to test for diabetes because they think diabetes is a death sentence.  Children have seen their mother, grandmother or uncle suffer and die from it.  When I tell them that I have had diabetes for 20 years, they are surprised.  I tell them that I have learned to live with diabetes and they can too,” said Mora. Read More

Alarming national mortality rates prompted Project HOPE, a global health education and humanitarian assistance organization, to develop a comprehensive patient education course for people with diabetes and those at-risk of the disease.  The result has been a notable improvement in clinical and psychosocial outcomes.  Recognized as a global model by the International Diabetes Federation (IDF) in 2005, the course has been adopted by multidisciplinary health workers in 25 government clinics and three community groups serving over one million people in the Mexico City metropolitan area.

Child Health Day is observed nationally in United States on the first Monday of October to highlight the importance of protecting children’s health and to encourage parents to include proper nutrition and regular exercise into their children’s lives to minimize health problems including diabetes, heart disease, obesity and asthma.   

The Virginia-based NGO is marking the day by focusing attention on its programs in the U.S. and around the world.

“In Mexico, 1 in 3 school children is overweight, so in 2007, we launched a diabetes prevention initiative among Mexico’s school children.  HOPE is educating communities about the link between diabetes and obesity and it’s crucial to get this message out to Mexico’s public schools,” said Courtney Guthreau, Global Diabetes Specialist and Regional Director for the Americas for Project HOPE.  Watch Video

Unlike Type 1 Diabetes, which is controlled through insulin injections, type 2 diabetes requires lifestyle changes.

“Together with our corporate sponsors, we have promoted the “Healthy Habits for a Healthy Weight” initiative and our studies show that most children in the targeted schools are adopting three key healthy habits – eating more fruits and vegetables, more water and getting more exercise, and we saw decreased obesity rates after two years,” Guthreau said.

Project HOPE is also highlighting its work on child obesity closer to home.

According to the U.S. Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) about one in six children between 2 and 19 in the U.S. is overweight, increasing the risk factor for serious health consequences including asthma, diabetes and heart disease.

Project HOPE has deployed a mobile screening and education unit known as the HOPEmobile to improve access to screening and provide chronic disease prevention and management education to people in rural New Mexico.

About Project HOPE
Founded in 1958, Project HOPE (Health Opportunities for People Everywhere) is dedicated to providing lasting solutions to health crises, with the mission of helping people to help themselves. Identifiable to many by the SS HOPE, the world’s first peacetime hospital ship, Project HOPE now conducts land-based medical training and health education programs in more than 35 countries across five continents.

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Geraldine Carroll Tel. 540.257.3746

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