Trying to curb diabetes in central Brooklyn

February 29, 2012 9:28:04 AM PST
The Family Center in Brooklyn is on the front lines in the fight against diabetes.

Two years ago they launched the B-Swell Program after health screenings found an abnormally high rate of the disease.

Central Brooklyn has a 30 percent higher rate of diabetes than in any other part of the city. The reasons are poverty and a great number of uninsured or underinsured residents who don't go in for regular checkups.

All it takes is a prick of the finger to determine if someone is at risk for diabetes. Blood is tested to find out if the person's sugar levels are too high.

Over the past two years the Family Center has reached out to the community to offer free screenings to Brooklyn residents who otherwise would not get checked.

While we visited, Sharon Dawson had her blood screened, but this time she was confident the results would be good. Two years ago, she weighed more than 200 pounds. The news that she was pre-diabetic was a major wake up call.

Sharon changed her lifestyle dramatically, trading in junk food for healthier choices she learned at the center's free cooking class. Today's menu includes a healthier version of Chicken Creole - Lots of vegetables and chicken trimmed of all fat. Sharon is living proof of the success of the b-swell program, now she weighs in at 155 pounds.

Another element of the B-Swell program is a walking club. The group meets four times a week and walks for an hour through the streets of Brooklyn.

You can get more information on all of the free services the family center provides at

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