of Jacksonville’s Dunn Avenue Winn-Dixie store may have dropped by to
pick up a
few groceries Feb. 19, but they ended up getting a lot more than just a
bread and a gallon of milk. They took home valuable information on
and managing diabetes and preparing healthy food — as well as a
encourage them to walk their way to a healthier lifestyle.
and freebies were provided by a group of University of North Florida
students in the Brooks College of Health’s Master of Science in
program who conducted two in-store diabetes health fairs as a community
outreach service to the public. The health fairs were designed to
health and diabetes literacy in high-risk populations.
free diabetes screenings, body-fat analysis, diabetes risk assessment,
weight-control education and counseling, store tours and healthy-food
demonstrations and samples.
of the program’s 15 dietetic interns participated in the Dunn Avenue
location’s health fair, while half conducted a fair the next week at the
University Boulevard Winn-Dixie. Both stores were selected because their
shoppers represent multiple income levels and health risks.
in UNF’s highly competitive MSH dietetic internship program must
complete 41 credit hours of graduate-level coursework and 1,200
hours in four semesters. Getting out into the community to teach people
eat right and stay healthy is just one piece of the puzzle.
for students to educate the public about health-care issues and
nutrition, especially considering the public-health issues we deal
Dr. Catherine Christie, chair of UNF’s Department of Nutrition and
and graduate program director. “The No. 1 killer is heart disease. If
at high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer, diet is one of the major
factors, so education is critical in addition to behavior change.”
of the health fairs was educating the public about Type 2 diabetes, a
chronic disease marked by high levels of blood glucose and associated
heart disease, stroke, high blood pressure and other complications.
to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 23.6 million
suffer from the disease, which can be delayed and effectively managed
proper nutrition and regular exercise.
Dunn Avenue Winn-Dixie, dietetic intern Jennifer Martinez staffed a
with visual displays designed to attract passersby, including a yellow,
globular chunk of rubber simulating a pound of body fat. She also
correct food portion sizes. “A deck of playing cards equals about three
of meat,” Martinez said, “while a woman’s closed fist is the same size
half cup of food.”
America, everything is oversized when it comes to food portions,
“It’s all about super-sizing or biggie-sizing their meals. People need
account for the extra calories and fat that comes from adding those
portions to their meals – and they need to know the health risks of
conducted diabetes and pre-diabetes risk assessments by asking
series of questions about their weight, height, physical activity level
family history of high blood pressure and diabetes. Those assessed as
high-risk for developing diabetes were invited on an educational tour of
taking customers through the different departments to show there are
options in every area and they shouldn’t limit themselves to one type of
said intern Lara Clevenger. “We want to give them as much knowledge as
without overwhelming them so they have something to take home with
Lange, who plans to become a clinical dietitian when she and her cohorts
complete the program in December, said participants really enjoyed the
“We stress the importance of fiber and how it makes you feel full and
added benefit of preventing spikes in your blood sugar,” she said. “We
discuss the difference between starchy and non-starchy vegetables,
fruits, identifying foods that affect blood sugar, as well as lean
portion control and other important things that help control diabetes.”
Dr. Lauri Wright, director of UNF’s MSH dietetic internship program,
conducting health fairs in grocery stores is a great way to educate
people in a
non-intimidating setting where they’re more likely to respond to
In a supermarket, students are surrounded by hundreds of food labels and
hands-on materials to engage participants – and because everyone needs
for groceries, people from all walks of life participate, including
are uninsured or unaware of health risks associated with diet.
into varied-income, high-health-risk neighborhoods, we’re able to talk
with people who don’t always have access to health-care counseling,
a higher risk of developing diabetes,” Wright said. “Poverty is
obesity, which is a direct risk factor for Type 2 diabetes, so we need
all people in need.”
shopper Jennie James finished the store tour, she gave the UNF interns
marks on teaching her what she needs to know to manage her Type 2
learned about eating high-fiber bread and where to shop for food that’s
good for you,” she said. “The information I learned here today was
She especially enjoyed the treat she received at the end of the tour, a
turkey-and-apple Panini prepared by intern Rachel McCandless.
my job is to show people that just because the food is healthy doesn’t
it doesn’t taste good,” said McCandless, adding that she couldn’t make
samples fast enough to keep up with the demand.
health fairs were made possible by a $9,000 grant from the Aetna
Foundation, the charitable arm of Aetna Inc. The funding covered the
costs, including educational materials, testing supplies, pedometers,
demonstrations and T-shirts.
Foundation has found that the Nutrition and Dietetics Department at UNF
has been innovative in reaching out and educating the public,” said Tom
market head of Aetna Network Management. “We believe that by taking the
of providing health fairs in local grocery stores for people in our
with Type 2 diabetes, the department will once again be successful in
Pamela Chally, dean of the Brooks College of Health, said, “Aetna’s
our Nutrition and Dietetics Department means a great deal to me, our
and our students. The opportunity for students to interact with the
and offer diabetes screenings falls directly in line with our mission.
health fairs are another example of community-based transformational
which is a hallmark of UNF.”
of the health fairs is gauged not only by the 150-plus participants’
reactions and outcomes-based responses when surveyed, but also by the
of learning experience provided to students.
of success is just having the opportunity to put our students in
non-traditional venues where people make their day-to-day decisions
they’re going to eat and what they’re going to serve their families,”
said. “The whole idea of the graduate program is to develop these
quality health-care professionals who are going to make a difference in
community, and this is one creative way to do that.”
interns provide nutrition therapy to individual patients, said
Wright. “In community programs such as this, they are able to help
communities,” she said. ”This is a transformational experience to apply
knowledge of nutrition and food to help improve the health of entire
Department of Nutrition and
Dietetics is made up of eight full-time faculty and several adjuncts who
215 undergraduate students and 40 graduate students. The MSH dietetic
internship program is designed for graduate students who wish to become
registered dietitians. Another five to 10 graduate students already
as registered dietitians complete either thesis-based or
programs, depending on their career goals.