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Arizona nutrition program helps Banner|Aetna members bring healthy habits home

Food can be a powerful tool when it comes to managing many health conditions, including high-cost diseases like diabetes. Expenses from diabetes drive 25% of all U.S. medical spending, causing $90 billion in lost productivity annually. Plus, those with the disease are burdened with considerably higher medical costs than those without. That’s where hands-on, evidence-based programs like the Banner|Aetna’s Kitchen program comes in.

The Arizona nutrition program was developed for members with certain health conditions like diabetes or hypertension. It aims to engage, inspire and educate these individuals to make lasting lifestyle changes that lead to improved health outcomes and ultimately lower health care expenses. “A lot of people don’t realize the complications that can happen because of diabetes,” shares Melissa Saliba, a Banner|Aetna member and Kitchen Program alumni-turned-ambassador. She has been coping with health issues stemming from her diabetes for over 30 years.

When Melissa received an invitation to participate in the program, she was skeptical. She had attended several educational diabetes classes in the past but found the information difficult to understand and apply to her daily life. Yet Banner|Aetna offered something unique—the Arizona nutrition program incorporated kitchen and cooking skills under the guidance of a chef. That piqued Melissa’s interest, and ultimately, she started seeing real results after joining the program.

The Banner|Aetna Kitchen program is tailored to a small group of participants. Members meet for dinner parties and gardening days over a four-month period to learn a whole host of skills for healthy living.

During each twice-monthly dinner party, the group works together to prepare a nutritious, delicious meal while a trained chef gives a live cooking lesson. All of the hard work in the kitchen pays off when the group enjoys their meal together and participates in guided conversation about topics like practical nutrition, home gardening and how to stay physically active. Plus, to help these newly learned skills stick, members go home with all the ingredients in tow. They can then practice making the recipe again during the week.

Hands-on gardening sessions are also part of the Arizona nutrition program offered by Banner|Aetna. Participants learn how to plant, compost, grow and harvest fruits, vegetables and herbs. Melissa recalls a delicious dish the group prepared in the teaching kitchen: greens with garlic, balsamic and a mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion-all from the group’s garden harvest).

Following the program, Melissa’s A1C levels are lower than they’ve ever been. She’s also off one of her medications. “I’m exercising consistently and fit into my clothes again. And I feel like I’m just getting started,” she stated. “And my kids have learned so much too. We are all eating much healthier now because of this program; it affects whole households.” As an ambassador of the Kitchen Program, she will provide ongoing peer support to future members who participate.  

The Kitchen Program is just one of the innovative ways Banner|Aetna is changing health care for the better. Members interested in learning more can visit our Diabetes Care Support Center for more resources. And for information about our coverage, visit our Employer or Individual pages.

Our programs, care team and care managers do not diagnose or treat members. We assist you in getting the care you need and our program is not a substitute for the medical treatment and/or instructions provided by your health care providers.

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Banner|Aetna aims to offer access to more efficient and effective member care at a more affordable cost. We join the right medical professionals with the right technology, so members benefit from quality, personalized health care designed to help them reach their health ambitions.

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Health benefits and health insurance plans are offered, underwritten, and/or administered by Banner Health and Aetna Health Insurance Company and/or Banner Health and Aetna Health Plan Inc. (Banner|Aetna). Banner|Aetna is an affiliate of Banner Health and of Aetna Life Insurance Company and its affiliates (Aetna). Each insurer has sole financial responsibility for its own products. Aetna and Banner Health provide certain management services to Banner|Aetna. Aetna, CVS Pharmacy® and MinuteClinic, LLC (which either operates or provides certain management support services to MinuteClinic-branded walk-in clinics) are part of the CVS Health® family of companies.

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This material is for information only. An application must be completed to obtain coverage. Rates and benefits vary by location. Providers are independent contractors and are not agents of Banner|Aetna. Provider participation may change without notice.

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