Background & Significance

Arkansas ranks 47th in overall health and has the third highest obesity rates at 35.7 percent, according to a 2017 Robert Wood Johnson report.  Increase in obesity rates parallels the increasing rates of diabetes. It is estimated that 20 to 25 percent of US residents will be diabetic by 2020. Diseases associated with obesity and DM includes hypertension, high cholesterol, severe vision impairment or blindness, mobility limitations, limitations in instrumental activities of daily living, and coronary heart disease (CHD), congestive heart failure (CHF), stroke, myocardial infarction, lower extremity amputations, hyperosmolar hyperglycemic nonketotic syndrome, diabetic ketoacidosis, hypoglycemia. chronic kidney disease, and peripheral vascular disease. Economically DM costs the state of Arkansas over eight billion dollars.

Arkansas is underserved with low physician to patient ratios. The expansion and empowerment of healthcare providers knowledgeable about the impact of food on chronic disease management may be impactful clinically and cost effective wise.  A number of initiatives have been focused on structured education programs. There is a need to advance this to a new level by introducing a culinary medicine program to teach students across the healthcare strata the impact of food on health.

UAMS is ideally placed to play an effective leadership role in culinary medicine in Arkansas through integrating courses throughout all colleges and to develop an outreach education service. The aim has to be to provide excellent, patient-centered care on health meets food, which is cost effective and delivered close to home.