"Dining With Diabetes" Program for Older Adults

Improve the Nation's Nutrition and Health
Research Year: 

One of the themes for the initiative Healthy Arizona 2010 is to “promote good health and quality of life for all older adults in Arizona.” This is a challenge because obesity and diabetes are epidemics according to the American Medical Association (2001). Although Arizona's rate for obesity is average compared to other states, its diabetes rate falls in the second-highest category established by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Diabetes is currently the 7th leading cause of death in Arizona, according to the state health department. In rural areas, people diagnosed with diabetes have access to few resources to help them manage this chronic disease. Patients are told to “lose weight and eat healthy,” but few of them receive sufficient instructions to implement these changes. Increasing requests for diabetes information have been noted.

Description of Action: 

The “Dining with Diabetes” program, offered for the first time in the state through Arizona Cooperative Extension, provides education and hands-on demonstrations that show easy ways to make dietary and lifestyle changes. The goal is to help adults primarily over age 65 improve their health by better managing their blood glucose levels, thereby decreasing the risk of diabetes-related complications. The curriculum “Dining with Diabetes” was originally from West Virginia. The program consists of three weekly 2-hour sessions where participants are educated in basic nutrition principles related to diabetes, with demonstrations and tasting of healthy recipes.

Following a successful pilot program in Fall 2002, a Healthy Aging 2010 mini-grant was funded to conduct the program in the rural areas of Lake Havasu City, Bullhead City and Kingman, Arizona. The grant partnership included the county health department and the county seniors program. Three complete sessions of “Dining with Diabetes” were conducted in the three cities during 2004. A total of 104 participants attended at least one session of the program. Of those, 79 attended two sessions and 60 completed all three.


Participants rated the program overall at 9.42 on a scale of 1-10 where 10 = High. A pre/post test measured an overall knowledge gain of 22 percent. Participants expressed an increased confidence in their ability to select and prepare healthy meals for the diabetic person: on a pre-survey only 14 participants said they were “very sure” they could do this, but at the end of the sessions, this number had increased to 38.

A six-week followup survey was conducted to determine if any changes in eating habits or lifestyle had been made. Of the 60 participants who completed both sessions of the program, 57 surveys were returned. Of these, 81 percent reported that they had tried one or more of the recipes demonstrated at home. Sixty percent reported making dietary changes--reading labels, reducing portion sizes, reducing fat consumption and eating out less–and exercising more. This project filled a demonstrated need. Participants were eager and enthusiastic learners. Based on the feedback, it seems apparent that once they learned which changes needed to be made, they were willing to make them. Several reported decreased blood glucose levels and weight loss since attending the program.

Testimonials from participants:

“I”ve been able to use the info to adjust my diet and bring my glucose reading from over 200 down to almost 130 by reading labels and limiting my carbs.”

“Changed diet completely. Don’t eat out as often as before. Diabetes under control by watching diet and getting more exercise.”

“I did not know about counting carbohydrates before the Dining with Diabetes [class]. I have shared information learned with my diabetic sons.”

“I have changed my eating habits and the doctors are happy with the results.” “I do the cooking for my diabetic husband and all the information from the classes was very helpful. He has even lost some weight since watching the amount of carbohydrates he eats.”

Funding Agencies: 

Arizona Department of Health–Office of Healthy Aging 2010

Conact Name: 
Lynne Durrant
Contact E-mail: 
Contact Address: 

The University of Arizona

101 E. Beale Street, Suite A

Kingman AZ 86401-5827

Tel: (928) 753-3788 FAX: (928) 753-1665