Summit Medical Group and Community FoodBank of NJ Battle Diabetes
Zona Batacchi, MD, Endocrinology Specialist, Summit Medical Group and Karen Leies, Vice President of Development, Community FoodBank of NJ discuss their partnership, which is helping people with diabetes get control over their disease and prevent others from becoming diabetic.
"Welcome to Life & Living. I'm Joanna Gagis. There's a startling number of people in New Jersey who are hungry, or food insecure. Over one million. The Community FoodBank of New Jersey and the Summit Medical Group Foundation understand that hunger is actually a health issue. But what does that mean? Here to explain is Karen Leies, Vice President of Development at the Community FoodBank of New Jersey, and Doctor Zona Batacchi, an endocrinology specialist at Summit Medical Group. Welcome both of you. Thank you. Thank you for having us. This is a really really important collaboration, because you're really touching on two needs within the community, but really stemming from the same problem, right? So first, let's set it up Karen. What do we know about hunger in New Jersey? What communities are affected? What are the numbers affected? Well, every community in New Jersey is affected by hunger. And we know that it doesn't matter whether it's poor or affluent, every single town in New Jersey has food insecure individuals. What does food insecure mean? Food insecurity means that the individual doesn't necessarily know where its next meal is coming from. And we also know that people may not have the most nutritious food. So oftentimes, when families are food insecure, they're turning to low nutritious food to satiate that hunger. Why is that? Because it's cheaper, it's faster, it's easier, and... So what are some of those problem foods that we know people are turning to? Fast food, high carbohydrate, high sugar, I'm sure you could speak to that. High fat... high fat foods. Yes. So Doctor, what is happening in the body? What do we see as some of the chronic conditions that are coming out of these lower income families, populations in New Jersey, who, like Karen said, are turning to the worst food options because it's what they can afford? Right. So what's happening, and it's happening nationwide, and in New Jersey, is that obesity is on the rise, and with it is type 2 diabetes. And so this initiative with Summit Medical Group Foundation and the FoodBank, we're trying to identify people who have diabetes and also people who have prediabetes. It... What is the difference between diabetes and prediabetes? Right. So prediabetes means that you don't have diabetes just yet... there are actually many people who have that. Nationwide, it's about 84 million, compared to 30 million people who have diabetes. So more than twice the number of people who are on the verge? More than twice. Yes. Going down the wrong path? Right. But this is an important critical group of persons, because if we intervene, we can reverse their progress to..."