UAMS Study Finds Pandemic Limited Physical Activity, Nutrition Access for Arkansans with Diabetes

By David Wise

The study, Physical Activity and Fruit and Vegetable Consumption During the COVID-19 Pandemic for People with Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus, found that one in five Arkansans with diabetes consumed fewer healthy foods — such as fruits and vegetables — and nearly one in three Arkansans with diabetes reported a reduction to their physical activities as a direct result of the pandemic. Men reported an additional day of physical activity compared to women, due to many women assuming additional household and childcare responsibilities since the start of the pandemic.

“The results of the study support the need for health care providers to reinforce the importance of physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet for people with diabetes, especially during a public health emergency like the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Jennifer Andersen, an assistant professor in the UAMS Office of Community Health & Research and a lead researcher on the study. “Additionally, women with diabetes may need extra support to maintain their health as many have taken on more responsibilities at home and have not returned to the workforce or other activities since the pandemic started.”

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes. In Arkansas, about one in nine adults is diagnosed with the condition. Although diabetes is unique to every person, it can be managed by eating a healthy diet and developing an exercise routine, according to the American Diabetes Association.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends adults get at least 150 minutes of physical activity per week. For more information about physical activity and nutritional opportunities near you, visit UAMS.Health/Together.

The study was supported by the UAMS Translational Research Institute, which is funded by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences at the National Institutes of Health, Clinical and Translational Science Award UL1 TR003107.

UAMS is the state’s only health sciences university, with colleges of Medicine, Nursing, Pharmacy, Health Professions and Public Health; a graduate school; a 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. UAMS is the only adult Level 1 trauma center in the state. UAMS has 3,047 students, 873 medical residents and fellows, and six dental residents. It is the state’s largest public employer with more than 11,000 employees, including 1,200 physicians who provide care to patients at UAMS, its regional campuses, Arkansas Children’s, the VA Medical Center and Baptist Health. Visit or Find us on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube or Instagram.

The UAMS Northwest Regional Campus includes 288 medical, pharmacy, nursing and health professions students, 64 medical and pharmacy residents, two sports medicine fellows, 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.