January 26, 2009

Farmer’s market to fight obesity, diabetes

To fight an epidemic of obesity and it's life-threatening complications researchers in Brownsville, Texas, are using a farmer's market.

Faculty and students at The University of Texas School of Public Health Brownsville Regional Campus said research has shown the predominately Hispanic community of Cameron County has twice the national average of diabetes, a co-morbidity of obesity. In 2002, The U.S.-Mexico Border Diabetes Prevention and Control Project noted diabetes as the fourth leading cause of death among Hispanics in Texas, the researchers said.

The Brownsville Farmer's Market, which provides locally grown produce and increases the awareness of chronic diseases associated with obesity, is the brainchild of Belinda Reininger of the University of Texas School of Public Health.

A voucher system, funded by a grant, allows low-income families to receive $10 in vouchers to purchase fresh fruits and vegetables.The vouchers go a long way at the market.

Last week I bought four cucumbers, six grapefruit, one dozen farm eggs, fresh cilantro and dill -- all for $10, Dr. Rose Gowen, medical director of the Clinical Research Unit at the University of Texas School of Public Health, said in a statement..

A significant portion of the obesity problem here is because local diets are high in carbohydrates and include very few vegetables and fruits.