MTSU receives three-year grant to help students re...

MTSU receives three-year grant to help students reduce sugary beverage intake

Beginning July 1, MTSU will use a three-year grant in a proactive effort to help students learn how to make wiser beverage decisions.

As part of the Tennessee Department of Health’s ongoing Project Diabetes initiative, the agency has awarded more than $444,000 to MTSU’s Center for Health and Human Services to implement “Blue Raiders Drink Up: Healthy Choices for Healthy Students.”

The program’s purpose is to reduce overweight and obesity as risk factors for the development of diabetes with the administration of interventions prior to any manifestation of the disease.

Cynthia Chafin, associate director for community programs, Center for Health and Human Services interim director

Cynthia Chafin

Students will learn the importance of reducing consumption of sugary beverages. Planned activities will include participation in cooking classes and counseling with a registered dietitian, among other educational events. A scholarship to fund personal training sessions also will be offered.

“Tennessee obesity rates for high school students in 2017 was 20.5 percent, resulting in Tennessee having the second highest obesity rate for that population in the nation,” said Cynthia Chafin, associate director of community programs for CHHS.

“This trend in obesity rates for young adults may continue as they enter college, and we know that obesity and diabetes are connected,” Chafin said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommend limiting the amount of sugar-sweetened beverage intake to help individuals maintain healthy diets.

Center for Health and Human Services logoAccording to, drinking sugar-sweetened beverages frequently is associated with “weight gain/obesity, Type 2 diabetes, heart disease, kidney diseases, nonalcoholic liver disease, tooth decay and cavities, and gout.”

MTSU Student Health Services, the Division of Student Affairs, and the departments of Health and Human Performance and Human Sciences will be campus community partners in “Blue Raiders Drink Up.” Off-campus partners include the Tennessee Clean Water Network, the University of Tennessee Extension Office and others.

The MTSU Center for Health and Human Services seeks to improve the health and well-being of Tennesseans and that of the nation. In partnership with the Adams Chair of Excellence in Health Care Services, the center initiates and strengthens academic programs in health and human services to support workforce development and promote healthy communities.

Through collaboration and partnerships, the center facilitates research, communications, education and training in public health issues of importance to Tennessee consistent with the mission and purpose of MTSU.

For more information, contact Chafin at 615-898-5493 or, or visit the center’s website at To learn more about Project Diabetes, go to

— Gina Logue (