Top Chef standout highlights diabetes education program at Civic Center

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Former Top Chef standout and Bar Rescue star Tiffany Derry highlighted an event held at the Demopolis Civic Center Friday as she offered tips and a cooking demonstration as part of the Novo Nordisk Diabetes Education Program.

Derry, who won fan favorite on season seven of Top Chef before returning to compete in the all-star edition of the show in season eight, prepared a simple but elegant salad and a smoked turkey chili that was sampled by the audience in attendance.

The aim of the program, which was sponsored by the Demopolis Elite soccer organization and Physicians Family Healthcare, was to offer insight into methods of healthy cooking without sacrificing flavor.

Following Derry’s demonstration, representatives from the Marengo County Health Department and the Demopolis High School Culinary Department prepared meals.

Dr. Ronnie Chu, one of the initiative’s organizers, hopes the event will serve as just one step down the long road of combating obesity and diabetes.

The event came amid rising diabetes and obesity rates throughout west Alabama While some 33.5 percent of the state’s adult population is listed as obese, an alarming 18.6 percent of Alabama children aged 10-17 are obese. And the 17.1 percent of high school students struggling with obesity makes Alabama the third highest state in that category.

Obesity rates are particularly high in the western counties of Alabama’s Black Belt with frequency percentages exceeding 37 percent for Marengo, Perry, Sumter, Hale and Greene counties.

And while 12.9 percent of Alabamians are listed as having diabetes, an extraordinarily high concentration of those cases is in west Alabama.

Representatives from the Demopolis High School culinary class, taught by Annette Gwin, assisted with the program by functioning as servers.