THE GOAL

of Unidos Contra La Diabetes.
The goal of Unidos Contra La Diabetes is to reduce the number of new cases of type 2 diabetes in 5 years, resulting in a 10% reduction in the prevalence of diabetes by 2030. We are committed to doing this by integrating primary and behavioral health for people at-risk for diabetes in our community, with a particular emphasis on meeting the needs of low-income and underserved populations.

THE IMPACT

to our communities.
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    It is estimated that diabetes creates $720 million in additional yearly healthcare costs in the RGV.
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    When indirect employment and productivity losses due to diabetes in the RGV are taken into account, the total annual economic losses equate to an astounding $200 million.
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    People with chronic conditions are dropping out of the workforce in their 40s and 50s and losing access to health coverage.

A FOCUS

on pre-diabetes.
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    Pre-diabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal but not high enough for a diagnosis of diabetes. People with pre-diabetes are at higher rick for developing type 2 diabetes.
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    1-in-3 adults in the RGV have pre-diabetes
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    Lifestyle changes like incorporating physical activity, eating healthy and keeping a healthy weight can help avoid the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes.

THE PARTNERSHIP

Unidos Contra La Diabetes is comprised of a wide range of leaders from hospitals, community clinics, foundations, universities, churches and community-based organizations that came together in the fall of 2014. This effort is sustained with support from Methodist Healthcare Ministries of South Texas, Inc. and the Valley Baptist Legacy Foundation.

BE PART

of the solution.
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    Facilitate change and help implement policies that fund integrated behavioral health and promote access to primary care.
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    Be a health role model and encourage local businesses and employers to start workplace wellness initiatives.
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    Allocate monetary resources to support programs that improve health, such as:
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Bicycle and pedestrian master plans that include improvements like bike lanes, bike racks and bike trails create safe access to places for exercise.
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Fitness and exercise programs, such as Zumba and aerobics classes, offered at community centers provides wider opportunities for physical activity.
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Community gardens and farmers’ markets improve access to fresh fruits and vegetables and reduce barriers to accessing healthy food. They also create community engagement and safer neighborhoods.

POLICY PROPOSALS FOR 2018

to reduce the prevalence of diabetes in the Rio Grande Valley.

Walking is low-impact, low expense physical fitness activity that individuals can practice to improve their health (e.g., by reducing their weight, improving cardiovascular health, and inhaling more clean outdoor air). UCD proposes to work collaboratively with local governments to assess the amount of public facilities and trails that exist in the Rio Grande Valley. We will then compare the Valley to other areas of Texas. Finally, UCD will promote expansion of public infrastructure in cities and in rural areas where needed.

Walking is low-impact, low expense physical fitness activity to improve health (e.g., by reducing their weight, improving cardiovascular health, and inhaling more outdoor air). Running has similar health benefits. UCD proposes to work collaboratively with school districts to assess the amount of public access to school-owned tracks for exercise during non-school operating hours. We will offer model public use policies and joint city/school cooperative agreements as a resource for school officials. We will then promote expansion of public access in school districts in cities and in rural areas where needed.

Consumption of more fruits and vegetables, whole grains, and water will lead to better health versus the consumption of sugary drinks, high fat meats, highly preserved or processed foods, and high sugar content breads. However, the lower cost of unhealthy food choices (e.g., soda, chips, high-fat ground beef, and sugary cereals) makes it easier to purchase more unhealthy choices when a family is on a limited budget and must stretch its SNAP benefits as much as possible. We propose to develop policy recommendations on how SNAP recipients could be incentivized to make healthier purchases through the award of future purchase credits.

Consumption of more fruits and vegetables, good grains, and water will lead to better health versus the consumption of sugary drinks, high fat meats, highly preserved or processed foods, and high sugar content breads. Consumption of sodas is an especially easy and unhealthy habit in households when such drinks are easily accessible. We propose to collaborate with State Senator Eddie Lucio, Jr. (Brownsville) who has in the last two legislative sessions introduced legislation to apply a one cent per ounce tax on carbonated beverages to reduce the consumption of such products. We plan to develop recommendations for bill modifications (e.g., reserving tax revenue to fund public health programs) to increase support for a tax levy that would garner broader support in the Texas Legislature.

The prevalence of diabetes is especially acute among the low-income population in the Valley. Access to health and nutrition advice is critical to enable individuals and families to live healthier lives. For many families in this income segment, the safety net clinics are the only option for medical advice to prevent or manage diabetes. Safety net clinics have been operating year to year without a secure assurance of continuing federal funding beyond 1 to 2 years. We intend to collaborate with the clinics, partner organizations and local health coalitions to advocate for permanent multi-year funding from the federal government.

Access to produce locally grown can be a powerful way to broaden the horizon of families on how to eat healthier. It is a way to make a positive impact on young children so that they learn to consume more produce. However, the lower cost of unhealthy food choices (e.g., soda, chips, high-fat ground beef, and sugary cereals) makes it tempting to purchase more unhealthy choices. Fruits and vegetables may not be the first choice for kids if they are not readily available at home. We propose to advocate for an increase in funding for the Texas Farmers’ Nutrition Program that funds $6 vouchers to WIC mothers (for a maximum of $30 annually) who can then redeem the vouchers at farmers markets for the purchase of produce.