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Photo Credit: Nick Giuliani
Although self-reported rates of diabetes are low in African-born communities in Minnesota, (3.3%) lifestyle and behavioral factors suggest that the threat of increased diabetes rates is lurking. According to 2002 Survey on the Health of All the Population and the Environment (SHAPE), 47% of all African-born blacks in Hennepin County had a body mass index that categorized them as overweight or obese—compared with 52% of all adults in the county. In 2003, WellShare conducted a similar survey in the Somali community in Minnesota. As with African-born residents in Hennepin County, only a small percentage (8%) of Somali men and women reported having diabetes. But only 18% met the recommended daily levels of moderate physical activity, and less than a third were meeting nutritional requirements for servings of fruit (29%) and vegetables (6%) per day.
WellShare is working to reverse this trend. Educational and research programs are allowing us to continue to monitor the problem while educating thousands of Somalis about nutrition, physical activity, and diabetes prevention. WellShare has also joined forces with the Confederation of Somali Community in Minnesota and Somali TV to distribute diabetes prevention messages using Somali language radio and TV programming. We've also worked with our community partners to create a community-based exercise class, conduct an assessment of available healthy foods, and provided community-based education about healthy eating.