News release: Statewide diabetes award goes to Saint Paul dietician

News Release
October 25, 2012
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Statewide diabetes award goes to Saint Paul dietician

Arlene Becker received the 2012 Bruce Zimmerman Diabetes Award Thursday in recognition for her pioneering work in diabetes prevention in Minnesota and nationally.

The award was presented to Becker by the Minnesota Diabetes Steering Committee and the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH). The award ceremony was held October 25 at the Many Faces of Community Health Conference in the Twin Cities. The annual award honors Dr. Bruce Zimmerman, an internationally known diabetes expert and endocrinologist at the Mayo Clinic, who was a leader in the fight against diabetes in Minnesota, and served as a founding member of the Minnesota Diabetes Steering Committee from 1985 until his death in 2001.

The committee selected Becker as the 2012 award recipient for her national work and for her crucial role as a registered and licensed dietitian working to help people with diabetes and prediabetes at West Side Community Health Services in St. Paul. Becker has been a champion for the predominantly Latino population she serves. At West Side Community Health Services, Becker has led 14 Spanish diabetes prevention program groups that have helped people with prediabetes dramatically lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The last two groups (with a total of 25 people with prediabetes) lost a combined 254 pounds, and several participants returned their blood sugar levels back to normal.

"Arlene plays a key role in West Side's diabetes prevention and management program and we are so pleased to have her sharing her time and talent with our community," said Tracey Miller, chief operating officer at West Side Community Health Services. "Her passion is evident and she is a shining example for all, of healthy living and helping patients make difficult lifestyle changes to optimize his or her wellness."

In Minnesota, Becker has been a key contributor to expanding the I CAN Prevent Diabetes program administered by the Minnesota Department of Health. She has been especially influential in the state’s effort to expand the I CAN Prevent Diabetes program to people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, including minorities and people in Greater Minnesota. As a Minnesota Master Trainer, Becker has co-facilitated 10 lifestyle-coach trainings and certified over 160 coaches since 2009. Most recently she trained 40 coaches in African American churches, Somali and American Indian communities, Latino clinics serving uninsured immigrants, and nutrition extension educators in western Minnesota counties.

MDH Diabetes Prevention Planner, Rita Mays said, "Arlene brings a depth of experience with the diabetes prevention program groups, sensitivity to multi-cultural groups and instills confidence in our Minnesota lifestyle coaches to be strong coaches across the state."

At the national level, Becker has shaped new diabetes prevention policy and programs that will directly impact people with prediabetes in Minnesota. She is playing a leading role in a collaborative effort with the Diabetes Training and Technical Assistance Center (DTTAC), the Rollins School of Public Health - Emory University in Atlanta, the National Diabetes Prevention Program and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to launch a national diabetes prevention program across the United States.

According to Wendy Kurz Childers, Assistant Director at DTTAC, "Arlene has been a strong asset to the National Diabetes Prevention Program – over the past year as a DTTAC Master Trainer, she has facilitated six lifestyle coach trainings in four states, including DTTAC’s first Spanish-language lifestyle coach training. She has been instrumental in translating the DTTAC training materials and curriculum into Spanish, ensuring that the lifestyle change program will be delivered to Spanish-speaking participants across the country." Kurz Childers adds, "As a DTTAC Master Trainer, Arlene not only brings wisdom and a wealth of experience, but also the same genuine and compassionate nature that makes her excel as a Lifestyle Coach."

One in 3 adults or 1.4 million Minnesotans has prediabetes, and 5 to 10 percent of them go on to develop type 2 diabetes each year. The Diabetes Prevention Program, a large national study, showed that moderate weight loss (7 percent of body weight) and 150 minutes per week of physical activity for people with prediabetes can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58 percent over a 3 year period. Yet few people with prediabetes know they have the condition, putting them at risk for developing diabetes and its complications. Diabetes is a leading cause of death and disability.

For more information about diabetes, the Bruce Zimmerman Diabetes Award or the Minnesota Diabetes Steering Committee, please visit the Minnesota Diabetes Program website at


For more information, contact:

Scott Smith
MDH Communications

Gretchen Taylor
MDH Diabetes Program