SALINAS VALLEY — November is National Diabetes Awareness Month, and Blue Zones Project Monterey County is taking the initiative to raise awareness about type 2 diabetes prevention, management and the importance of a healthy lifestyle.
With a month-long series of events and activities, many of which are taking place in South Monterey County, the organization is committed to improving the health and well-being of the community.
“Our Diabetes Awareness series is designed to empower our community members to take charge of their health and make the changes necessary for a long and fulfilling life,” said Cindy Ruiz, senior marketing manager at Blue Zones Project Monterey County (BZPMC).
Diabetes is a prevalent and often preventable chronic health condition affecting millions of people in the United States. In Monterey County, the rates of diabetes are higher than the national average.
Almost 50% of adults in Monterey County have prediabetes or type 2 diabetes, according to Aspire Health. That is close to 300,000 people, a number that is enough to fill the Levi’s Stadium four times.
Diabetes is especially prevalent in the Latino community; 13.8% of Latinos in Monterey County have diabetes compared to 4.8% of whites and 4.4% of Asians.
One in two U.S.-born Latinos born in the year 2000 will likely develop diabetes in their lifetime, reported the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). More than 42% of Monterey County children aged 5-17 are overweight or obese. Children with obesity are at higher risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to CDC.
“Blue Zones Project Monterey County is dedicated to combating this health issue and enhancing the quality of life for its residents,” the organization stated.
Throughout November, the Diabetes Awareness series will feature a range of events, activities and resources designed to inform, engage and inspire community members. Some highlights of the series include walks with a diabetes expert, cooking demos and documentary screenings.
Locally, the series kicked off Tuesday, Nov. 7, in Greenfield with a Walking Moai group. The 10-week walk, hosted by BZPMC and the City of Greenfield, continues every Tuesday from 9 to 10 a.m. beginning at 98 S. El Camino Real.
A Cooking Demo with Blue Zones is set for Wednesday, Nov. 8, from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Taylor Farms Family Health and Wellness Center, 850 Fifth St., in Gonzales. Discover the benefits of a plant-based diet and learn to create healthy dishes with guest chef Anthony Cruz of Alimentos.
Next, BZPMC is partnering with Sun Street Centers’ STEPS youth students for tobacco litter cleanups across Monterey County on Wednesday, Nov. 15.
“Approximately 40 million American adults still smoke, and tobacco use remains the single largest preventable cause of disease and premature death in the country,” BZPMC stated. “For this cleanup, we will be focusing on tobacco litter in honor of the national annual event, Great American Smokeout.”
In King City, the Great American Smokeout tobacco cleanup will take place from 2 to 3:30 p.m. at King City Park, with participants meeting at King City Recreation Department, 401 Division St.
Another tobacco cleanup will run from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at Vosti Park, 164 Park St., in Soledad. Volunteers should meet by the park entrance.
Comfortable clothes and shoes, a hat or sunscreen, a trash picker and plastic gloves are recommended.
Also on Nov. 15 in Soledad, BZPMC will host a community event on type 2 diabetes with a showing of the documentary, “El Susto.” The event will take place from 6 to 8:30 p.m. at the Soledad Community Center, 560 Walker Drive.
“‘El Susto’ is a documentary that uncovers the soda industry’s outsized influence in Mexico, its access driven by deep political ties, aggressive marketing campaigns and abuse of power,” according to BZPMC. “The film reveals the story of courageous public health advocates, medical professionals and community members and their fight for the well-being of their nation.”
Finally, BZPMC will celebrate National Take a Hike Day on Friday, Nov. 17, in Gonzales. The walk will begin at 10 a.m. at Central Park, 207 Fifth St., where community members can start their day by “moving naturally and embrace the numerous physical, mental and social benefits that walking offers, while enjoying the beauty of the great outdoors,” stated the organization.
Participants should meet in the middle of the park and bring water.
By offering these events and resources, Blue Zones Project Monterey County aims to create a supportive and informative environment, making it easier for individuals and families to adopt healthier lifestyles, reduce their risk of diabetes and effectively manage the condition.
“The month of November is focused on one of the biggest issues we have here in Monterey County, type 2 diabetes,” said Paola Delgado, engagement lead at BZPMC. “My grandparents used to suffer from diabetes, and I’m ecstatic to be a part of the BZP Diabetes Awareness series. We are here to help raise awareness, for people to be more informed, and make a difference in their lives. We can’t wait to see the community join us at all our events. We want to make sure that we can prevent type 2 diabetes or help raise awareness.”
For more information and to see a full schedule of events, visit bit.ly/BZPMCEventbrite.