Students Present at Binational Border Health Fair at HU

Health Exhibition

Photo Margaret McKinney/Highlands University

New Mexico Highlands University exercise and sport sciences students Adrianna Allemand, left of Las Vegas, and Chris Rodela of Ruidiso prepare for presenting their project at the Binational Border Health Fair at Highlands.

Las Vegas, N.M. — New Mexico Highlands University exercise and sport sciences students presented projects on obesity and diabetes as part of a Binational Border Health Fair the university sponsored Oct. 8 — 9.

“The purpose of Binational Border Health Week is to bring attention to major health issues that affect populations in the U.S. and Mexico border region, specifically obesity and diabetes because they are both at epidemic levels in these areas,” said health education professor Ruthy Watson. “We want to educate the community and campus on diabetes and obesity, and give specific ideas for prevention.

“This is a topic that needs to be brought more to the forefront in public health and community health, especially in New Mexico where increasing rates of diabetes and obesity are a major concern,” Watson said.

In 2000, the United States–Mexico Border Health Commission formed with the goal of providing international leadership to optimize the health and quality of life along the U.S.–Mexico border.

The border states in the U.S. include New Mexico, Arizona, Texas and California. In Mexico, the border states include Baja California, Sonora, Chihuahua, Coahuila, Nuevo León, and Tamaulipas.

Binational Border Health Week is an initiative of the United States-Mexico Border Health Commission.

Watson and her graduate teaching assistant, Stephanie Santillanes, organized the health fair and other educational activities at Highlands.

Students from Watson’s two upper-division courses, U.S.–Mexico Border Health Issues and Health, Culture and Diversity, participated in the health fair, along with students from Santillanes’ Fit for Life course.

Adrianna Allemand, 22, a senior health and human performance and sport major from Las Vegas, and Chris Rodela, 23, a senior pre-professional allied health major from Ruidoso, N.M., presented a joint project about diabetes in children at the health fair on Oct. 8.

“More people, especially ones with kids, should know that Type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically in children,” Allemand said. “It’s important to be more aware of prevention and symptoms for Type 2 diabetes. Juvenile diabetes — Type 1 — is also on the rise.”

Rodela added: “It’s also important to know if you have a predisposition of diabetes running in your family. Crucial prevention factors like healthy eating, not smoking, and exercising — even just walking regularly — can help better your life and help prevent Type 2 diabetes.”

Watson is new to the Highlands University faculty in the Exercise and Sport Sciences Department. She earned her Ph.D. in public health, community health promotion, and health education from Walden University in Minneapolis.

Previously, Watson was on the faculty of Broward College in Ft. Lauderdale, Fla., and Southside Virginia Community College in Keysville, Va. Her research interests include chronic disease prevention in women and children, and wellness.