Top Chef standout to visit Demopolis for diabetes workshop

DerryThe upstart Demopolis Elite soccer organization is partnering with Novo Nordisk and the Chu Clinic to host a special event at the Demopolis Civic Center Dec. 11. The event focuses on diabetes education and will feature a special healthy cooking demonstration from celebrity chef Tiffany 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. Derry, a Novo Nordisk diabetes educator, gained further notoriety through her appearances on Spike TV’s Hungry Investigators and Bar Rescue.

The event is free to all comers and is designed to educate individuals as to how to prepare healthy meals that are simple and flavorful.

“Good foods may not taste good,” Dr. Ronnie Chu, one of the initiative’s organizers, said of the prevailing notion that seems to surround the concept of healthy eating. “We’ve got a stack of menus and recipes to hand out.”

The event comes 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.

For Chu and Demopolis Elite, the partnership with Novo Nordisk in this endeavor was logical as the program adopted the motto “More Than Soccer” from its outset.

“It’s not just soccer and kicking the ball around and so forth. We basically want to promote health in general. We just want to do more than soccer,” Chu said. “For the last couple of years, we’ve been promoting health. We’ve sent some of our players and coaches to different schools to promote the game and promote health.”

The event’s organizers have reached out to West Alabama Christian, Marengo Academy, Demopolis City Schools, Linden City Schools and Marengo County Schools about bringing students to take part in workshop.

“We’re also going to extend the courtesy to different clinics and see if they want to send their patients over that day,” Chu said.

Chu is hopeful the initiative grows beyond December’s event.

“Hopefully, it’s not just a day thing. Hopefully, ever so often, we can continue this down the road and have different restaurants come up with dishes and just promote health in general,” Chu said.

The event is from 10 a.m. to noon Friday, Dec. 11 and admission is free.