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Bad Economy = Nutrition Nightmare

November 8, 2010

(Ivanhoe Newswire)– Maintaining a job in these tough economic times is a challenge.  Maintaining proper nutrition is even harder, according to a new study.  

The recession impacts many aspects our lives including an increase of food insecurity.  This can have serious consequences for those suffering from chronic illnesses like diabetes.

For diseases like diabetes, in which nutrition and menu planning play a key role in treatment, food insecurity can be devastating.

Food security, as defined by the American Dietetic Association, is “access by all people, at all times to sufficient food for an active and healthy life, and includes at a minimum: the ready availability of nutritionally adequate and safe foods, and an assured ability to acquire acceptable foods in socially acceptable ways.”

However, 10 percent of adults with diabetes were classified as having food insecurity in the Third National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey.  Unfortunately, “older patients with diabetes commonly do not directly indicate to their primary care provider that money, lack of nutrition knowledge, transportation, physical disability, or other barriers are preventing them from complying with dietary recommendations,” Dr. Daria Homenko, who conducted this work at the State University of New York Upstate Medical University, was quoted as saying.

Investigators evaluated rural older adults with diabetes reporting the presence of absence of food insecurity with respect to meal planning, obesity, and diabetes control after receiving a telemedicine intervention that included nutrition counseling. Telemedicine is the practice of medicine at a distance ““ enabled by technology and high-speed telecommunications like a computer.

Findings from this study reveal that food-insecure adults with diabetes had a higher body mass index and were more likely to consider the cost of food than food-secure adults with diabetes.  However, after nutrition counseling via telemedicine, both groups reported that they usually or always adhered to the dietitian’s advice and did not differ significantly in lab values associated with diabetes care.

This study documents that low-income older individuals with diabetes and food insecurity have the ability to follow an appropriate meal plan after receiving nutrition education by telemedicine, which has not been previously reported.

“In the IDEATel project [telemedicine], nutrition education was effectively delivered to rural older adults with diabetes using telemedicine.  This study demonstrated that among participants classified as both food secure and mildly insecure, individuals were usually able to follow the dietitian’s advice.  This finding suggests that telemedical nutrition support services have the potential to be an important adjunct for rural primary care providers whose patients have poor access to the services of dietitians,” Co-author, Dr. Ruth Weinstock, Professor of Medicine at SUNY Upstate Medical University in Syracuse, New York, was quoted as saying.

Researchers participating in this multi-center study believe “food insecurity may become a greater problem for older patients living on fixed incomes as the cost of food rises or economically depressed rural localities lose food-distribution outlets.  Nutrition education with sensitivity to food insecurity issues as well as services providing access to low-cost, healthful food are needed for any older rural patients with diabetes.  Telemedicine can help with the former; public policies are critical for the latter.”

SOURCE: Journal of Nutrition Education and Behavior, November/December




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