A Conversation with Diabetes Educator & ACCN Satellite Presenter Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE
Advances and Controversies in Clinical Nutrition meeting is
nearly here. This year's meeting, held Dec. 5 through Dec. 7 at the
Capitol Hilton in Washington, D.C., provides a unique opportunity
for nutrition researchers and clinicians to confer on the latest
advancements and best practices in clinical nutrition.
These opportunities come via lectures, workshops, scientific
posters, and satellite symposia. One of these
satellite sessions, "The
Controversial Role of Dietary Protein in Diabetes and Related
Disorders," is sponsored and organized by the Egg Nutrition
Center. This symposium, which will be held from 1:30 pm to 4:30 pm
on Dec. 5, brings together Kevin Maki, PhD, Biofortis/Midwest
Center for Metabolic and Cardiovascular Health; Theresa Nicklas,
DrPH, Baylor College of Medicine; Barbara Gower, PhD, University of
Alabama; and Amy Campbell, MS, RD, LDN, CDE, Joslin Diabetes
Center. Campbell, who shares here her role in the session, has
served as a diabetes and nutrition educator for over 20 years. Last
year, she was awarded the 2012 Will Solimene Award for Excellence
in Medical Communication for her article on probiotic and
prebiotics for “Diabetes Self-Management.
Interviewer: Can you give us a preview of your presentation
at the upcoming Advances and Controversies meeting?
Campbell: My presentation will focus on the role of protein
in the practical care and management of people who have diabetes
and pre-diabetes. My co-presenters, on the other hand, will
be approaching protein and macronutrients from a more
research-based perspective. That research is certainly
important too; the great thing that our presentation will provide
is the combination of research with the practical side.
As dietitians and diabetes educators, we need to translate research
in order to help people who live with diabetes every day make sense
of those findings. In the case of protein, that means discussing
how our thoughts about protein in the diet have changed over the
years when it comes to diabetes management.
Interviewer: What other presentations or events at the
meeting are you looking forward to in addition to your panel?
Campbell: This is my first time participating in the
meeting, so there are a number of presentations that I'm interested
to attend. One that I'm most excited for is one of our other
satellite symposia, “The
Role of Yogurt in Improving the Quality of the American Diet and
Meeting Dietary Guidelines,” as well as the workshop on
"Evaluating and Implementing Popular Diets for Your
Interviewer: Can you tell us a bit more about what you do at
the Joslin Diabetes
Campbell: As a nutrition educator, I have counseled
patients on all aspects of health management, from weight
management to cancer. For the past 17 years, however, my
focus has been solely on diabetes education. I've taught
classes for people with diabetes, I've provided patients with
one-to-one nutrition counseling, and I teach other healthcare
professionals how best to help their patients with diabetes better
manage their care. This has been a growing part of my work,
as diabetes specialists are few and far between, and with the
epidemic of diabetes in this country, every health care
professional needs to know how to manage people who have
diabetes. Another growing focus of mine is prediabetes and
thinking about ways we can intervene with lifestyle management,
maybe with medication, as well, to help prevent them from
Interviewer: What do you think are the most important recent
advances in diabetes research?
Campbell: We have learned a lot about managing diabetes over
the past decade or so. At Joslin, we are one of the top diabetes
treatment centers in the world, both in terms of research and
clinical care. What we're learning from our programs is that
how people eat and the level of physical activity they get can
really help people with diabetes manage their condition. We have,
for example, a weight management program at Joslin called “Why
WAIT.” Our medical director, Dr. Osama Hamdy, developed the
dietary approach used in this program, which provides 20 to 30
percent of calories from protein, about 40-45 percent of calories
from carbohydrate, and the rest from fat. So it's a moderate
carbohydrate, slightly higher protein eating plan. What we
have found is that patients who come to this program do well in
losing weight and keeping it off, but they also see improvements in
other biomarkers and in quality of life. So we are finding
that by tweaking the macronutrient profile with a slightly higher
protein intake and a slightly more modified carbohydrate intake, we
can see major differences.
Interviewer: What are some of the biggest challenges
researchers face going forward?
Campbell: I think one of the biggest challenges is how much
our health care climate is changing and what that means for helping
people manage their diabetes. An ongoing challenge, however,
is just educating people about healthy eating habits for diabetes
and healthy living habits. One of the biggest problems I face
as a diabetes educator is the number of misconceptions that
patients have: for example, many people think that having diabetes
means that they can't eat certain foods or that they have to give
up the foods that they like. We spend a lot of time
teaching people the right way to eat for diabetes. There's no
one diet that works for everyone, but we do recommend a
macronutrient profile where we see significant improvements.
Interviewer: How did you first get interested in nutrition?
What motivated you to pursue a career in the field?
Campbell: I studied nutrition in college, and I did an
internship at what is now Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital in
Boston. It's right across from Joslin, and there happened to
be an opening there. I had already been working as a
dietitian with diabetes patients at Deaconess, so I thought, “What
better place to work with other clinicians and researchers who
focus solely on diabetes care?” It's also rewarding to see the
success stories that come with that focus. Diabetes is very
much a disease of self-management; there are so many things you
have to do to take care of yourself. With the right education
and the right support, however, patients can live a long, healthy
life with diabetes.