Blog > Medical > Fighting the Diabetes Epidemic in Guatemala

Sunday, August 27, 2017
Fighting the Diabetes Epidemic in Guatemala
Erin Crandell

Written by David Cotton, Medical Program Intern

In the US, a stereotyped diabetic might be one who eats too much McDonald’s and watches too much TV. In Guatemala, the situation is very different. Many diabetic patients in Guatemala are simultaneously malnourished and obese—the result of a high-calorie, low-nutrient diet. Paradoxically, many indigenous Guatemalans need to sell all their crops, nutrient rich vegetables and fruits, for a living. Instead of eating the nutritious food they grow, as in times past, they are forced to subsist on tortillas, beans, and junk food. Distressing the situation even further, junk food is ubiquitous and cheap—chips, cookies, and an ice cream together can equal the price of healthy food and purified water. This sugar-and-corn diet contributes to obesity, malnutrition, and diabetes.

To help fight the growing diabetes epidemic in the Guatemalan Highlands, Mayan Families has implemented a new Diabetes Prevention and Education Program in 2017. In April, Mayan Families began working with both middle-school students and preschooler parents in Tierra Linda to prevent diabetes through education about the disease. To date, three out of five planned lectures have been presented, and another lecture is planned for later this week. Lecture topics have included types of diabetes, causes, symptoms, and prevention.

Given the program’s newness, an emphasis has been placed on monitoring and evaluation—implementing Pre- and Post-lecture tests to evaluate learning.  Additionally, we have planned important changes in the program to be implemented in upcoming months with new teaching-pools.

During the months of May, June, and July, we held monthly diabetes club meetings to help our diabetes patients learn about the disease and receive a monthly checkup (including blood glucose level). We hope that with these educational tools our patients will be able to treat their diabetes and prevent new cases of diabetes within their families and communities.

To support our efforts to provide preventative and educational health care programs to our sponsored students and their families, please consider donating to the Charlie Gomez Medical Clinic today!

For more information about our Diabetes Prevention and Education Program, contact us at


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