News Release: School of Medicine

Apr. 10,  2009

Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program Releases New Video to Empower Patients

News Article ImageView video online! To obtain DVD copies of the Viva mas y major... con su diabetes bajo control! DVD or for more info on the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program, please call 404-778-1697 or email amparo.gonzalez@ or

"Viva mas y major… con su diabetes bajo control!" Live longer and better with your diabetes under control! It's the title and focus of a new video produced by the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program (ELDEP) aimed at empowering patients to live their healthiest by controlling their diabetes.

The video, which took two years to complete, is the brainchild of Guillermo E. Umpierrez, MD, professor of medicine, Division of Endocrinology, Metabolism at Emory University School of Medicine, and chief of Diabetes and Endocrinology at Grady Memorial Hospital.

"In places where diabetes education in Spanish is unavailable, this tool will provide patients living with diabetes with critically important information about diabetes self-management," says Umpierrez.

"With this video patients will learn how to eat healthy, increase physical activity, and to effectively check and monitor their blood sugar levels," says Amparo Gonzalez RN, BSN, CDE, Division of Endocrinology, Emory University School of Medicine and director of the Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program. "They will also learn about medications to improve diabetes care."

Diabetes is a disease that affects the body's ability to produce or effectively use insulin - the essential hormone needed to convert sugar, starches and other food into energy for daily life functions. The main types of the disease include type 1 diabetes, type 2 diabetes and gestational diabetes. Symptoms may include increased thirst and urination, blurred vision and fatigue.

According to the American Diabetes Association, diabetes affects 23.6 million people in the United States or 7.8 percent of the population. Of that total, an estimated 17.9 million have been diagnosed with diabetes. This means close to 6 million people are unaware that they have the disease. Left untreated, diabetes can lead to serious complications, such as blindness, kidney damage, cardiovascular disease and lower-limb amputations. This is because type 2 diabetes is usually diagnosed years after its onset, giving the disease a head start in causing damage.

"Diabetes in rampant in Latino communities throughout the United States and abroad," says Daniela Salas, MPH, program coordinator, Emory Latino Diabetes Education Program. "This tool helps us disseminate much needed information about diabetes management."

Since 2006, ELDEP has received funding in the amount close to $500,000 from the Healthcare Georgia Foundation and the pharmaceutical industry to develop a culturally sensitive, community-based diabetes education program targeting Latinos in metro Atlanta and throughout the state of Georgia. 

Last fall the ELDEP became the first nationally accredited all Spanish diabetes education program. The program holds weekly education sessions entirely in Spanish at the Grady Diabetes Clinic, Grady International Medical Clinic and five other sites in the greater Atlanta area. Like the Clubes de Diabetes - diabetes club meetings - which mix social interaction with short information lectures, the new video features participants describing their experiences living with diabetes.

"It was really important for the patients of the ELDEP to be the voice of this video," says Gonzalez.

Patients include Lilia Hernandez, a young woman from Mexico diagnosed with type 1 diabetes who suffered a diabetic coma after seeing a doctor for partial face paralysis because her treatment included only vitamins and massages.

"I was unconscious for three days before I recovered," says Hernandez. "Now I use insulin.  It was very hard for me to learn that I would need to depend on insulin to live. We Hispanics have learned that people with diabetes die early, become blind or have their foot amputated."

Eduardo Alvarez, a native of Venezuela diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, says the magnitude of the implications of the disease was never made clear by previous doctors.

"My doctor did not explain anything to me," says Alvarez. "She said you have diabetes, so lose weight, exercise and take this medication. My reaction was fear. I thought I was going to die but my father counseled me and said that this is an opportunity to live better and take care of myself."

 Breaking down cultural barriers with education and empowerment is the mission of the ELDEP focusing to help control type 2 diabetes in Latinos by educating patients about the importance of a balanced diet, exercise, insulin, monitoring blood glucose and medication. It's very common in the Latino community for patients with diabetes to hide their medical condition from friends even family because they are afraid they will not be seen the same or pitied.

After a health scare, Baldemar Menendez, a native of El Salvador, was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. He's come to terms with his health condition and says when it comes to managing the disease it's really about discipline, "A diabetic who is disciplined has a better quality of life than a non-diabetic who is careless," says Menendez.

The participants of the ELDEP say they hope the video will help educate other people in their community about this disease, how to control it and how to live with it. The message is also for those who live with a person with diabetes because family and social support plays a critical role in successfully managing diabetes.

More Information

If you know of someone who has diabetes or you would like to refer patients to the program or if you would like to volunteer please contact Britt Rotberg at


The Robert W. Woodruff Health Sciences Center of Emory University is an academic health science and service center focused on missions of teaching, research, health care and public service.

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