Nov 012013
 

In the United States, nearly 26 million children and adults have diabetes. Another 79 million Americans have pre-diabetes and are at risk for developing type 2 diabetes. And the American Diabetes Association estimates that the total national cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $245 billion.

North Carolina exceeds the national average in the prevalence of diabetes, and East Carolina University scientists are recognized as international leaders in the study of metabolic diseases.

Research at the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute encompasses several fields including bariatric surgery, insulin signaling, glucose transport, bioenergetics, exercise physiology, pediatric healthy weight programs, polyunsaturated fatty acids, cardiac arrhythmia, and many other areas.

The core research philosophy of the East Carolina Diabetes and Obesity Institute is an integrative, interdisciplinary approach. Major discoveries by ECU researchers include: type 2 diabetes, previously thought to be incurable, can be reversed within several weeks to months after bariatric surgery; and, insulin resistance in muscle, a precondition that leads to diabetes, is caused by elevated production of hydrogen peroxide produced by mitochondria.

But the research goes hand in hand with preventative care. Now in its 12th year, the annual Winning with Diabetes Conference is a one-day community program for people with diabetes, friends, families and health care providers that feature speakers, screenings and demonstrations.

It will be held 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 6, at the East Carolina Heart Institute at ECU.

The morning will feature speakers on neuropathy, kidney disease and effective self-management, while the afternoon will offer screenings and cooking demonstrations. One of the featured speakers is Dr. Robert Tanenberg, medical director of the diabetes and obesity institute and professor of medicine at ECU, and medical director of Vidant Medical Center’s inpatient diabetes program. 

Those attending will get:

•          Expert advice from doctors, nurses and nutritionists

•          Foot, blood pressure, kidney and vascular screenings

•          Cooking demonstrations        

Spots are filling fast. Register by calling Kristen Brooks at 252-847-8265. Fee is $25 per person and $20 for each additional person. The program is made possible by the ECU Brody School of Medicine, the ECU College of Nursing, Vidant Medical Center and the Pitt County Health Department.

American Diabetes Month is observed each November by the American Diabetes Association to bring attention to diabetes and those impacted by the disease.

Share/Bookmark
Aug 022013
 

img2782_01[1]

Dr. Stephanie Jilcott Pitts

Stores that stock little if any healthy foods could be a contributor to obesity in urban and rural communities, but such stores could also be a catalyst for healthier eating.

That’s according to researchers at East Carolina University. Their two-part study, “Formative Evaluation for a Healthy Corner Store Initiative in Pitt County, North Carolina,” was published in the July 18 issue of Preventing Chronic Disease, a publication of the CDC. It is available online at http://www.cdc.gov/pcd.

Dr. Stephanie Jilcott Pitts, an associate professor of public health at the Brody School of Medicine at East Carolina University, led a team that focused on “food deserts” — urban neighborhoods and rural towns without ready access to fresh, healthy and affordable food. This lack of access to healthful foods contributes to a poor diet and can lead to higher levels of obesity and other diet-related diseases, such as diabetes and heart disease.

During the spring and summer of 2011, two ECU graduate assistants audited 42 stores in rural and urban areas of Pitt County, including interviews with store owners and managers and store customers. They found that healthful foods were generally less available and of lower quality in rural areas than in urban areas.

Store owners expressed a willingness to stock more fruits and vegetables if customers demanded it. Meanwhile, customers suggested they would buy and eat more healthful foods if stores stocked them.

“The take-home message was that corner stores can be an important source of food for many people in rural and urban areas of Pitt County,” Pitts said. “While corner store owners may not perceive there is demand for healthy foods, customers, at least the ones we surveyed, seemed willing to purchase healthier foods from corner stores. So if healthier foods are provided in the stores, perhaps customers would purchase them.”

Pitts’ study was part of a Communities Putting Prevention to Work initiative, funded with a $1.6 million grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to the Pitt County Health Department to tackle obesity and tobacco use. Grant money was available to help stores add refrigeration and other equipment to stock produce. The research was also supported by the East Carolina University Engaged Outreach Scholars Academy and the ECU Department of Public Health.

Four county stores, Mark’s Food Mart near the Pitt County Fairgrounds, Rountree Farmers Fresh Market near Ayden, Mid-Town Grocery in west Greenville and Carolina Country Fresh in Bethel, have joined the initiative and are offering fresh produce to customers. Mark’s Food Mart reported a 30 percent profit margin on produce in 2012.

Pitts credited the following people for their work on the study: ECU public health graduate assistants Karamie Bringolf, Carmeron Lloyd and Kelly Lawton; research associate Jared McGuirt; and the CPPW team of Jo Morgan, Jean Wilkerson, Diana Vetter-Craft and Chris Green at the Pitt County Health Department.

Nov 202012
 

Newly elected political leaders, take note: Ask and listen, and you will find untapped ways to serve.

That’s what ECU’s Lessie Bass believed seven years ago – and it’s what led the university and its partners to receive the respected C. Peter Magrath University/Community Engagement Award last week.

Bass, an associate professor of social work, began listening to residents of west Greenville back in 2005. She pondered how to help the struggling community meet social, economic and health needs. So, she asked them.

Knocking on doors and research from the ECU Center for Health Disparities led Bass and a friend, Deborah Moody, to identify a gap in service. Together they began a true partnership between west Greenville residents, the City of Greenville, Pitt Community College and ECU. Their common goal: to bring family- and neighborhood-strengthening programs to the Lucille W. Gorham Intergenerational Community Center.

Today, residents of west Greenville are using the center to build a better community with help from dedicated volunteers. Many of them are ECU faculty and students.

From a community garden to diabetes management and health screenings to after-school tutoring, the community center is a hub of activity and learning for kids, adults and seniors.

ECU health sciences students and faculty support a number of initiatives at the community center. One of the newest, IGCC Fit, provides health screenings for youth, adults and seniors each Tuesday. College of Nursing student volunteers have helped with initial health screenings to collect information on people with risk factors and monitor them throughout the year.

The Brody School of Medicine is involved in a study of African-American women with Type 2 diabetes, and the center is an enrollment and screening site for the study.

We are proud of our students and staff for their dedication to the community. This work falls directly in line with our mission to serve, particularly those who lack adequate access to care. We’ve long believed service benefits our state and enriches student experience. This recent national award is confirmation we’ve been moving in the right direction for some time.

The true inter-departmental collaboration between social work, business, health sciences and others shows: when we work together, we win.

Although Bass passed away in 2009, we’re confident she would be proud.

Read more about the award at http://www.ecu.edu/cs-admin/mktg/community_engagement_award.cfm.

 

 

Nov 122012
 

According to the American Council on Exercise, the average American consumes 3,000 calories and 229 grams of fat in one Thanksgiving meal. Between breakfast, lunch and leftovers, a full day’s worth of eating could amount to 4,500 calories!

In a state and region plagued by skyrocketing obesity rates and diabetes, we can all stand to be a little more mindful of our holiday gluttony.

But don’t let that give you the holiday blues. ECU health experts want to help.

If you’re preparing the Thanksgiving meal this year, we’re pooling ideas to help you keep the calorie count under control without depriving your guests or alienating the picky eaters. We promise they will still want to come back next year.

Now through Nov. 22, ECU health sciences faculty will provide daily smart meal tips and healthy recipes to use on Turkey Day and year round.

Check back regularly or follow us on Twitter (@ECUNewsServices) to get insightful ideas from professionals at the Brody School of Medicine, College of Nursing, School of Dental Medicine and College of Allied Health Sciences.

If you have tips of your own you’d like to share, we welcome your comments here or connect with us on Twitter.

Dr. Phyllis Horns, vice chancellor

ECU Division of Health Sciences