Local Impact - Arizona

Students from Tse'bii'nidzisgai Elementary School engaging in healthy behaviors.

Marlene Valentine

Health Educator
Kayenta Service Area, Navajo Special Diabetes Project

Tse'bii'nidzisgai Elementary School students have undergone periodic Body Mass Index assessment since 2014 to the present Oct/November 2016. I have been going into the Physical Education Classes where these students participate in the Navajo Nation Special Diabetes Project sponsored SPARK activities. My primary stated goals with these students are to maximize their participation during the 45 minutes session, increase heart rate for at least fifteen minutes, challenge themselves beyond their current abilities, and learn to enjoy movement activities. Over the years the collected Body Mass Index shows positive increments in healthy weight category for both male and female students. Back in 2014, Normal BMI of 5 to 85th percentile for boys and girls, respectively, were 38% and 58%. Currently, in Oct/Nov 2016, Normal BMI of 5 to 85th percentile for boys and girls, respectively, are 53% and 68%. Likewise, the overweight (≥85th percentile to ≤ 94th percentile) during the same period show remarkable change (e.g., 60% male; 41% female in 2014 versus 43% male; 30% female in Nov/Dec 2016. Unlike previous years, this year with the School Principal's approval, I assessed the entire student body. When I calculated three classes, which I don't provide SPARK activities to, into the overall assessment results, I found they affected the trends. They skewed the percentage into the negative range (e.g., healthy weight percentage went down and unhealthy weight went up). These results show me that students use the healthy messages they hear in the classes and are changing their habits and lifestyle to prevent diabetes.

Diabetes in Arizona

According to 2008 CDC data, approximately 376,000 people in Arizona – 7.9% of the state’s population – had diagnosed diabetes, and many of them suffer from serious diabetes related complications or conditions. In addition to the human toll diabetes places on people in Arizona, the financial burden diabetes places on the state’s health system is staggering – in 2007, the direct and indirect cost of diabetes in Arizona was approximately $3.46 billion.

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