Residents of East Compton and Inglewood are at significant risk for obesity and Type 2 diabetes, according to the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health. The economically depressed areas also don’t have enough health care providers to meet residents’ needs. To help address these issues, the community engagement program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA has partnered with MiOra, a local nonprofit organization, to offer UCLA Diabetes Prevention Program classes in these communities.
Founded by Ozlem Equils, MD, FAAP, MiOra helps high school students succeed in careers in health care, science, technology, engineering and math. “To address health disparities in the area, the Compton Unified School District offers a program that trains high school students and recent graduates to become health coaches and certified nurse assistants,” says Gloria Moon, MSW, MPH, program director, community engagement. “Together with MiOra and the school district, we’re training students to use the Diabetes Prevention Program to help members of their communities lower their diabetes risk.”
UCLA endocrinologist and researcher Tannaz Moin, MD, MBA, MSHS, developed the program, with support from the UCLA Healthy Campus Initiative. “Prediabetes affects one in three Americans, so it’s important to increase awareness of this condition and engage at-risk individuals in lifestyle change strategies shown to reduce the risk of Type 2 diabetes,” says Dr. Moin. “Providing diabetes prevention training to students pursuing health care careers is a wonderful example of a UCLA and community partnership in action.” The UCLA program is offered through UCLA campus recreation services and follows guidelines for National Diabetes Prevention Programs established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The UCLA Diabetes Prevention Program was one of the first national campuswide diabetes prevention efforts to be recognized by the CDC. The program is currently available to all UCLA staff and faculty at risk for diabetes at no cost through support from UC Health.
In early August, nine students completed two days of coach training. As certified diabetes prevention coaches, the students will conduct diabetes prevention sessions at community centers, senior centers, health fairs and other sites throughout East Compton and Inglewood. They’ll also learn how to conduct research as they collect data over the course of the year to track results, such as participants’ weight, glucose levels and behavioral changes.
Participants attend weekly classes for 16 weeks and then monthly classes for the remainder of the year. “The students will offer healthy lifestyle tips, including how to engage in free or low-cost exercise within the community and how to shop for and make affordable, nutritious meals,” says David Rincon, program coordinator, community engagement. “We want to make health education more accessible to people who live outside of UCLA Health’s immediate reach,” says Moon. “With this program, we’re tapping a group of students interested in health care to provide health services directly to the communities where they live. We hope to expand the program to other communities in the future.”