SYS-CON MEDIA Authors: Yeshim Deniz, Elizabeth White, Sean Houghton, Glenn Rossman, Ignacio M. Llorente

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Celebrity Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz Partners with Merck on Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas to Urge Hispanics With Type 2 Diabetes to Get to Their A1C Goal

Culinary Expert Visits San Antonio on August 16 to Help Educate At-Risk Population About Ingredients for Successful Blood Sugar Management

WHITEHOUSE STATION, N.J., Aug. 15, 2014 /PRNewswire/ -- Merck (NYSE: MRK), known as MSD outside the United States and Canada, is teaming with celebrity chef and cookbook author Leticia Moreinos Schwartz on Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas, an educational program encouraging Hispanics with type 2 diabetes to achieve better control of their blood sugar—a key treatment goal to help reduce the risk of serious health problems. Hispanics in the United States are at a higher risk for developing type 2 diabetes than non-Hispanic white adults, and it is the fifth leading cause of death within the Hispanic community. Chef Leticia, who has a family history of type 2 diabetes, will visit select cities to cook up some of her favorite diabetes-friendly Latin recipes, urge Hispanics to know their A1C (average blood sugar level over the past two to three months), and work with their doctors to set and attain their own A1C goal.

Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas

For many people with diabetes, it is recommended by the American Diabetes Association (ADA) that they have an A1C of less than 7 percent to help reduce the risk of complications. For certain individuals, a higher or lower A1C goal may be more appropriate, which is why it is important for people with diabetes to speak with their health care providers to discuss the A1C goal that is right for them. Nearly half of people with diabetes have an A1C greater than 7 percent.

"After living with type 2 diabetes for many years, my grandfather passed away from a stroke, one of the serious complications of diabetes, so I know how important it is for people with diabetes to know their A1C and make a commitment to get to their A1C goal," said Chef Leticia. "I'm proud to work with Merck on Desafiando La Diabetes to help urge Hispanics to learn about how to control blood sugar and inspire them to eat healthier as part of an overall plan to reach their goals."

Lifestyle changes such as diet and exercise, as well as medications (if prescribed by your doctor), are all important to help you get to your A1C goal. Because diabetes is progressive, sometimes adjustments to your treatment plan are necessary, including changes to medications, diet, and activity level. As part of the program, Chef Leticia is sharing some of her favorite diabetes-friendly Hispanic dishes through cooking demonstrations with the American Diabetes Association (ADA) at the Univision Latina Health Fair event in San Antonio at the Freeman Coliseum on August 16. Attendees will also have the opportunity to sample one of these dishes, which will be served by a participating local food truck.

"We are excited to work with Merck and Univision to feature Desafiando La Diabetes as part of this year's Latina Health Fair," said Tiffani Nair, Director of Mission Delivery & Communications, American Diabetes Association. "The American Diabetes Association is committed to raising awareness of diabetes and providing relevant resources for people with diabetes to help them get to their treatment goals. This program is providing important information for Hispanics living with type 2 diabetes, as well as their friends and family."

Diabetes disproportionately affects the Hispanic community in the United States. Hispanic adults are nearly twice as likely to be diagnosed with diabetes as non-Hispanic white adults. In fact, almost 13% of U.S. Hispanic adults are already diagnosed, which is one of the highest prevalence rates among ethnic groups in the country. Hispanics comprise 59.1 percent of the population in Bexar County, which has an overall diabetes prevalence of 16 percent.

"Many people with type 2 diabetes may not realize that high blood sugar levels over time can lead to serious long-term health problems, so it's important that Hispanics and others living with diabetes learn how to better manage their disease," said Robert Espinoza, MD, Family Medicine, Santa Ana California. "Desafiando La Diabetes will help educate Hispanics in San Antonio about the importance of working with their doctors to come up with an individualized treatment plan to help them get to their A1C goal, track their progress and adjust the plan if needed, since diabetes is a progressive disease."

Most people with diabetes are aware of the importance of controlling high blood sugar, but it's also important for them to understand why blood sugar can sometimes go too low. For people on certain diabetes medications, low blood sugar can be caused by skipping meals or excessive exercise and can make you feel shaky, dizzy, sweaty, hungry, and sometimes, faint. Make sure your doctor explains the signs and symptoms of high and low blood sugar to you and let him or her know if you are experiencing any of those symptoms.

At the Latina Health Fair event, Chef Leticia will encourage people with type 2 diabetes to pledge to know their A1C and to talk to their doctor about setting and attaining their own blood sugar goals. Friends and family can also pledge to challenge their loved ones to get to their goals. People with type 2 diabetes who take the challenge can stay motivated by completing missions and accessing important resources available on DesafiandoLaDiabetes.com that will help them work with their doctor to come up with an individualized treatment plan that is right for them.

For more information about Leticia's story, the Desafiando La Diabetes program, bilingual resources, and diabetes-friendly recipes, visit DesafiandoLaDiabetes.com

About Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz
Chef Leticia Moreinos Schwartz is a chef, cookbook author, teacher, and food stylist with expertise in Hispanic and Latino cuisine. Diabetes is a topic that is very close to her heart, and Chef Leticia is now partnering with Merck on Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas to challenge Hispanics with type 2 diabetes to know their A1C and to work with their doctor to set and attain blood sugar goals.

About Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas
Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas is an educational program from Merck urging Hispanics with type 2 diabetes to know their A1C and to talk to their doctor about setting and attaining their own blood sugar goals. For more information on Desafiando La Diabetes: Logra Tus Metas, and to pledge to work with your doctor to reach your blood sugar goals, visit DesafiandoLaDiabetes.com.

About Type 2 Diabetes
Approximately 29.1 million people in the United States have diabetes, and 90% to 95% of these people have type 2 diabetes. One of three American men and nearly 2 of 5 American women born in 2000 will develop diabetes sometime during their lifetime.

When someone has type 2 diabetes, the body does not make enough insulin, and/or the insulin that the body makes does not work properly. This causes blood sugar levels to become too high, and the body may also keep making sugar even though it does not need it. Once a person has type 2 diabetes, it does not go away, and having diabetes can lead to serious health problems, such as heart disease and stroke.

People with type 2 diabetes can reduce their risk of serious complications by setting individual goals to manage the ABCs of diabetes – A for A1C, also known as blood sugar, B for blood pressure and C for cholesterol.

About Merck
Today's Merck is a global healthcare leader working to help the world be well. Merck is known as MSD outside the United States and Canada. Through our prescription medicines, vaccines, biologic therapies, and consumer care and animal health products, we work with customers and operate in more than 140 countries to deliver innovative health solutions. We also demonstrate our commitment to increasing access to healthcare through far-reaching policies, programs and partnerships. For more information, visit www.merck.com and connect with us on Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

Media Contact: Michael Close
                       (310) 617-1067

American Diabetes Association. Por Tu Familia.

Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140813/135990
Photo - http://photos.prnewswire.com/prnh/20140813/135991

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