Chef Leticia advocates a new program for diabetes

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, known to her devoted followers as Chef Leticia, has joined forces with healthcare company Merck to promote…

Chef Leticia is using her knowledge of food to help Hispanics with diabetes understand the importance of optimal blood sugar levels. (Photo: Twitter/@ChefLeticia)

Celebrity chef and cookbook author Leticia Moreinos Schwartz, known to her devoted followers as Chef Leticia, has joined forces with healthcare company Merck to promote “Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas” (America’s Diabetes Challenge: Get to Your Goals).

The initiative is designed to encourage Hispanics with type 2 diabetes to work towards better blood sugar control.

SEE ALSO: Chef Leticia on healthy eating for Hispanics with diabetes

“After living with type 2 diabetes for many years, my grandfather passed away from a stroke, one of the serious complications of diabetes, so I know how important it is for people with diabetes to know their A1C (average blood sugar level over the past two to three months) and make a commitment to get to their A1C goal,” said Chef Leticia in a press release.

“I’m proud to work with Merck on Desafiando La Diabetes to help urge Hispanics to learn about how to control blood sugar and inspire them to eat healthier as part of an overall plan to reach their goals.”

Hispanics are disproportionately affected by diabetes, not only in the United States, but in other countries–like Mexico–as well.

According to the Office of Minority Health, Hispanics are almost twice as likely as non-Hispanic whites to be diagnosed with diabetes; Hispanics have higher rates of end-stage renal disease, caused by diabetes; and Hispanics are 50 percent more likely to die from diabetes compared to non-Hispanic whites.

To help Hispanics understand their risk factors and how diet, obesity and blood sugar levels all tie together, Chef Leticia is lending her expertise to the cause.

She is publicly advocating the importance of small steps–like achieving A1C levels–in the overall management of type 2 diabetes.

“Many people with type 2 diabetes may not realize that high blood sugar levels over time can lead to serious long-term health problems, so it’s important that Hispanics and others living with diabetes learn how to better manage their disease,” Robert Espinoza, MD, Family Medicine, Santa Ana California, explained.

Desafiando La Diabetes will help educate Hispanics in Los Angeles County about the importance of working with their doctors to come up with an individualized treatment plan to help them get to their A1C goal, track their progress and adjust the plan if needed, since diabetes is a progressive disease.”

The Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas website indicates A1C is a blood test that shows an individual’s average blood sugar level over the past two to three months. This number is used to show how well diabetes treatment is working. Because a main goal of type 2 diabetes management is to keep blood sugar under control, each type 2 diabetes patient has an A1C number they are supposed to achieve for optimal care.

SEE ALSO: 4 herbs that might help your type 2 diabetes

People without diabetes usually have an A1C ranging from 4-6 percent. It is recommended that many people with diabetes have an A1C of less than 7 percent to help reduce the risk of complications, states the website, and nearly half of people with diabetes are not at an A1C <7 percent.

“One of the more difficult aspects of diabetes management can be adjusting diet, especially when food is such an important part of one’s culture, as it is in the Hispanic community,” said Chef Leticia.

“That’s why I’m sharing some of my favorite traditional Hispanic and Latino dishes that have been recreated to be diabetes-friendly, without sacrificing flavor. I urge you to accept our program’s challenge by knowing your latest A1C and working with your doctor to set and achieve blood sugar goals. Together, with the support of your family and health care team, you can better manage your type 2 diabetes and get to your goals. Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas!”