K-State Research and Extension
Promoting Diabetes Awareness and Prevention

PHOTO: Renie Stephan (pictured), nurse practitioner, worked with K-State Research and Extension district agent Cindy Williams to promote diabetes awareness and prevention in Oskaloosa, Kan.


The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Health Institute funded SEARCH for Diabetes in Youth to examine diabetes (type 1 and type 2) among children and adolescents in the United States. 

Diabetes, Renie Stephan, 2013Statistics for 2011 estimate 215,000 people younger than 20 have diabetes (type 1 or type 2), which represents 0.26% of all people in this age group. 

When health officials in the northeast Kansas town of Oskaloosa saw the incidence of diabetes and related health problems rising — particularly among kids in the community — they knew they had to spring into action. 

In 2011, registered nurse Crystal Van Houtan and nurse practitioner Renie Stephan won a federal grant to hold a free, monthly clinic at the Jefferson County Health Department. They would handle medical checkups, but turned to a trusted partner for diabetes outreach and education. 

Enter Meadowlark District agent Cindy Williams. 

“It took just one phone call to Cindy, and she was very willing to come and give us a hand,” Van Houtan said. “She has a lot of passion about diabetes and has been instrumental in our coalition, as well as supporting and presenting at diabetes support group meetings.” 

Stephan noted that, as a health-care provider, she spends a lot of time treating diabetes, and she’s not alone. 

Working with K-State Research and Extension has helped Stephan promote better eating habits to those diagnosed with diabetes or at risk for diabetes. They look at food in a different way, learn what to eat, and how to prepare those foods. 

“Cindy has been able to do that for us and help those participants,” she added. 

For her part, Williams has seen an increase in awareness of healthy habits. She noted one woman who tried a food sample for diabetics, now offers the item on a menu she prepares for a daycare center. 

As a district agent, Williams has been able to specialize on what citizens say they want and take those programs more often to all counties in the district. 

“I have more of a concentrated effort to spend in these particular areas, and I can focus just on one or two areas, rather than three, four, or five,” she said. “What we’ve noticed being in the district is that once one county has a program, the other counties want it as well.” 

Williams’ time was not paid for by the diabetes coalition’s grant; it was part of her service through the Meadowlark District. The group is continuing to seek ways to offer the free clinics and education throughout the district. 

In addition to the three counties in the Meadowlark District, agents in the Wildcat, Post Rock, and Southwind districts promoted diabetes awareness in 10 counties. At least 16 more agents in counties throughout the state also presented programs on diabetes awareness and prevention in the last year, with several more planning programs for 2013. 

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services’ Office of Minority Health website, Mexican Americans are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to have diabetes. 

To address the problem, Wyandotte County agent Nozella Brown and two Latino paraprofessionals offer Dining with Diabetes programs. The project is funded through a mini grant from the Latino Health For All Coalition, which is part of a larger five-year grant from the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparity. 


For More Information:
Mary Meck Higgins, 785-532-1671, mhiggins@ksu.edu 


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Districts are Successful

In 1994, Mitchell and Lincoln counties formed the first extension district – Post Rock. Jewell and Osborne counties joined in 2005, and Smith County came onboard in 2012. 

Tom Claussen, a Mitchell County resident involved in the initial planning, said forming a district was a good decision. 

“Our agents have been very, very good at holding the line on spending; it’s almost as if they’re spending their grandmother’s last penny,” he said. “We really feel like we’re good stewards of the taxpayer’s money, but we’re also hired to present a good program.” 

Plus, he said, residents have the ultimate say on the district’s operations. 

“It’s been a joint effort between the full time staff, the board members, the university, and also our area directors,” he said.

“At this point, I have no regrets; none whatsoever. I think we have served the people of these five counties very well, and I hope to continue to do that job.” 

Allen Warren was instrumental in forming the Southwind District with Allen, Bourbon, and Neosho counties. He served on the Bourbon County extension board before being elected county commissioner in 2010. 

“Districting took a year longer than what I had hoped for, but I feel like it was the right decision for Bourbon County.

"From a county commissioner’s perspective, instead of having two generalists in our county extension office, we now have six specialists who can work with the people of Bourbon County. And, I think, down the road that it will save us taxpayer dollars, as well.” 


More Information: Jim Lindquist 785-532-3519, jlindqui@ksu.edu