UAMS Researcher to Use $991,000 to Improve Health of Arkansans with Food Insecurity and Type 2 Diabetes

By David Wise

Christopher Long, Ph.D., an assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry, will use the  award from the USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture to determine methods of improving the diet and lifestyles of Arkansans with type 2 diabetes who rely on local food pantries.

More than 15 percent of Arkansas households regularly experience food insecurity, which is defined by the USDA as a lack of consistent access to enough food for an active, healthy life. The national average for households with food insecurity is just over 11 percent. Food insecurity is associated with a more than 100 percent increase in prevalence of type 2 diabetes in adults compared to food-secure households.

Long is working with UAMS’ Office of Community Health and Research and food pantries throughout Arkansas to produce educational materials designed to help adults manage their type 2 diabetes. The materials will be delivered along with food boxes containing items appropriate for diabetics. This project is part of the Office of Community Health and Research’s ongoing commitment to address health disparities.

“Our goal is to develop easy-to-understand information for people from a variety of backgrounds that will help them manage their diabetes and adopt better eating habits,” said Long. “Most food pantries are unable to provide food that meets the needs of people with type 2 diabetes so it’s important that they have access to healthy foods and the information they need to live a healthy lifestyle.”

Long will also work with UAMS’ Office of Interprofessional Education to develop a training program designed to help medical students recognize food insecurity-related issues like type 2 diabetes and other chronic diseases.

This work is supported by Agriculture and Food Research Initiative grant no. 2020-68015-30734 /project accession no. 1021697 from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

Any opinions, findings, conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; hospital; a main campus in Little Rock; a Northwest Arkansas regional campus in Fayetteville; a statewide network of regional campuses; and seven institutes: the Winthrop P. Rockefeller Cancer Institute, Jackson T. Stephens Spine & Neurosciences Institute, Harvey & Bernice Jones Eye Institute, Psychiatric Research Institute, Donald W. Reynolds Institute on Aging, Translational Research Institute and Institute for Digital Health & Innovation. UAMS includes UAMS Health, a statewide health system that encompasses all of UAMS’ clinical enterprise including its hospital, regional clinics and clinics it operates or staffs in cooperation with other providers. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. U.S. News & World Report named UAMS Medical Center the state’s Best Hospital; ranked its ear, nose and throat program among the top 50 nationwide; and named six areas as high performing — cancer, colon cancer surgery, heart failure, hip replacement, knee replacement and lung cancer surgery. UAMS has 2,727 students, 870 medical residents and five dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 10,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s Hospital, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health.

The UAMS Northwest Regional Campus includes 250 medical, pharmacy, nursing and health professions students, 50 medical and pharmacy residents, and 1,000 community-based faculty. The campus has nine clinics including a student-led clinic and physical, occupational and speech therapy. Faculty conduct research to reduce health disparities. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.