In August 2022, research published in the Journal of the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics reaffirmed the importance of teaching how to shop for and cook healthier food to empower individuals diagnosed with diabetes.

According to Amaris Williams, postdoctoral scholar in the Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism at Ohio State in Columbus, Ohio, and coauthor of the publication, “This study showed that Cooking Matters for Diabetes may be an effective method of improving diet-related self-care and health-related quality of life, especially among individuals living with food insecurity, and should be tested in larger randomized controlled trials.”

“Cooking Matters for Diabetes (CFMD)” is a 6-week intervention program with weekly food provisions and was developed from Cooking Matters and the American Diabetes Association’s diabetes self-management education and support program. The not-for-profit group, Share Our Strength, is responsible for running the Cooking Matters program, which they have expressed hope will solve problems of hunger and poverty nationally and internationally.

Participants completed surveys (Summary of Diabetes Self-Care Activities [SDSCA], Medical Outcomes Study Short Form Health Survey [SF-12] version 1, Diet History Questionnaire III, 10-item U.S. Adult Food Security Survey Module, and Stanford Diabetes Self-Efficacy scale [DSES]), and researchers measured A1c at baseline, post intervention, and at a 3-month follow-up.

The mean age of study subjects was 57 years (standard deviation = 12); 65% identified as female, 52% as white, and 40% as black. Intervention participants improved SDSCA General Diet Score (0-7 scale) post intervention (+1.51, P = .015) and 3 months post intervention (+1.23, P = .05) and improved SF-12 mental component score (+6.7 points, P = .025) compared with controls. At baseline, 19 subjects (40%) were identified to be “food insecure” at the start of the study. These participants had lower self-efficacy (5.6 vs. 6.9 DSES, P = .002), higher A1c (+0.77, P = .025), and demonstrated greater improvements in both post intervention (+1.2 vs. +0.4 DSES score, P = .002, and -0.12 vs. +0.39 A1c, P = .25) when compared with food-secure participants.

Dr. Williams and her colleagues set out to explore whether a cooking intervention with food provision and diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES) improves overall diabetes management and A1c values. The team concluded that CMFD may translate into an effective method of improving health-related quality of life, especially among food insecure patients, as well as diet-related self-care, and that these findings should be tested to ensure rigor in larger, randomized controlled trials.

The coinvestigator of the study, Jennifer C. Shrodes, a registered and licensed dietitian and certified diabetes care and education specialist at Ohio State Division of Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism, commented further on the importance of their work, stating, “We found that study participants ate more vegetables and fewer carbohydrates. We saw improvements, including significant changes in diabetes self-management activities and numerical lowering of A1C among food-insecure study participants. This is important, because food insecurity and a lack of access to nutritious food can make diabetes management and A1C control more difficult.”

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