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Young students eating lunch at school

Animated image of a man walking by a fruit and vegetable stand.Human Sciences Extension offers educational programs and classes to help Alabamians stay healthy. Our research-based information in human nutrition, diet, and health are building blocks to developing healthy people, strong families, and elevated communities.


Background: According to the American Diabetes Association, the 2017 total estimated cost of diagnosed diabetes in the United States is $327 billion. Individuals with diabetes incur, on average 2.3 times more health care–related costs than individuals who do not have diabetes. Indirect costs include increased time away from work ($26.9 billion), decreased productivity of nonworking individuals ($2.3 billion), disability-related diabetes ($37.5 billion), and diabetes-related deaths of working-age individuals ($19.9 billion).

In 2017, 27.5 million people or 7.6 percent of the U.S. population, had diabetes. Of those, 7 million did not know they had it. Alabama has one of the highest rates of diabetes in the country—15.2% of the adult population has diabetes and more than 1.3 million have prediabetes. Every year in Alabama, approximately 31,000 new cases are diagnosed with estimated direct and indirect health care costs of $5.4 billion yearly.

  • Diabetes is the seventh leading cause of death in the United States.
  • Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death for Alabamians.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of adult blindness in the country.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of kidney failure in the country.
  • Diabetes is the leading cause of nontraumatic amputations in the country.
  • People with diabetes are at the same risk for heart attacks as people who have already suffered a heart attack.

Human Sciences Response: Eight Human Nutrition, Diet, and Health regional Extension agents collaborated with local and state partners to deliver diabetes meal planning with a focus on food preparation and nutrition. The Right Bite Diabetes Cooking School showed people affected by diabetes how to enjoy healthy food while controlling their disease. The Right Bite Diabetes Cooking School is a six-week class of fun ways to learn how to enjoy delicious food prepared with less fat, sugar, and sodium. Alabama residents learned to prepare food to control diabetes, high blood pressure, and other chronic diseases.

  • Number of counties: 46
  • Number of people participating in nutrition classes: 629

Audience Diversity*

Audience Diversity for Diabetes Education

Participants learned about controlling portions, reading labels, using various sweeteners, making wise carbohydrate choices, increasing fiber, choosing the right fats, and controlling high blood pressure. After participating in the six- week Right Bite Diabetes Cooking School, individuals with diabetes made the following improvements in their diets:

  • Salted foods at the table less
  • Ate more foods with 2 to 3 grams of fiber per serving • Ate at least three veggies per day
  • Ate a nonstarchy veggie at lunch and dinner
  • Drank fewer sugar-sweetened beverages
  • Drank at least 8 glasses of water a day
  • Drank water before a meal to reduce hunger
  • Used hands to show portion size
  • Used canola, peanut, or olive oil in place of other oils • Used food label nutrition facts


Background: Between 2015 and 2016, the prevalence of childhood obesity among children 2 to 5 years old was 13.9%. More than 12 million children in the United States— or one in six—are obese. Children who suffer from obesity are at greater risk for other chronic conditions including heart disease, diabetes, sleep apnea, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure. Children who are obese are more likely to be bullied and suffer from depression. Early childhood care program settings, such as day care centers, Head Start, and prekindergartens, are ideal places to teach young children healthy behaviors that decrease obesity. Healthy behaviors, such as fruit and vegetable consumption, reduced screen time, and physical activity, are essential in combating childhood and adult obesity.

Human Sciences Response: Eight Human Nutrition, Diet, and Health regional Extension agents partnered with early learning centers and preschools, parents, and teachers across Alabama to deliver developmentally appropriate childhood obesity prevention efforts. Four- and five-year-olds participated in 12 circle time lessons consisting of fun, hands-on learning opportunities for physical activity and healthy eating. Young children’s senses of touch, smell, sight, sound, and taste were stimulated to teach them about healthy behaviors. The program also used color, taste tests, and music to reinforce that healthy food and physical activity can be fun. Parents were given quick, nutritious recipes to try at home. Color Me Healthy is a 12-lesson research-tested program designed to increase physical activity along with fruit and vegetable consumption among 4- and 5-year-olds.

  • Number of counties: 42
  • Number of participants: 455

Human Sciences Results:

  • 398 children increased consumption of fruits.
  • 371 children increased consumption of vegetables.
  • 398 children increased physical activity.

* Audience diversity indicates those self-reporting demographics.


Download a PDF of Human Nutrition, Diet, and Health Impact Report 2017, FCS-2293. 

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