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Five Questions: Diane Wayne, Riverside County Community Health Agency

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Diane Wayne, M.S., R.D. has over 25-years of experience in nutrition and dietetics including 9-years in public health. She currently serves as the Senior Public Health Nutritionist (Nutrition Network) for the Department of Health, Riverside where she promotes Network for a Healthy California to low income populations in Riverside County and statewide. Prior to this position, she served as the Public Health Nutritionist.

A graduate of Syracuse University with a B.S. in Nutrition and Food Science, as well as obtaining her M.S. degree in Foods, Human Nutrition, and Dietetics from the University of Arizona.

How would you describe your job responsibilities?
I am a Registered Dietitian and member of the American Dietetic Association. I am certified in Adult Weight Management by the American Dietetic Association and serve as a Consultant Dietitian for nursing and retirement homes. As a Senior Nutritionist for the County of Riverside, Department of Public Health, I works for a grant called the Network for a Healthy California which provides nutrition and obesity prevention information and services to Cal Fresh recipients or those eligible to receive CalFresh, the program formerly known as Food Stamps. I provide education and training in nutrition, help administer the grant, and lead a staff of health professionals who provide classes, taste tests, workshops, and other services throughout the county. Targeted areas for nutrition and physical activity promotion include participating school districts, the Department of Public Social Services, and many other community organizations and churches. I grew up in Rochester, New York and received my Bachelors of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics at Syracuse University. I received my Masters Degree in Human Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Arizona in Tucson and interned at the University of California San Francisco, Hospitals and Clinics before coming to Southern California that I now call home.

What would you say is your biggest accomplishment?
When there are no more health disparities in the African American community, I will have achieved my greatest accomplishment. In the meantime, educating the public in life-saving nutrition practices is what I do. As a student, I realized the importance of nutrition to health a long time before nutrition became the buzzword it is today. The courses were challenging, but the need was great and failure was not an option so I graduated with honors in the field of nutrition. I have received many awards and accomplishments in my field; I co-wrote and edited health education materials such as the Children and Weight flipchart, You Can Prevent Anemia flipchart, Children and Weight brochure for the Child Health and Disability Prevention Program, Healthy Eating for Healthy Blood brochure for the Blood Bank of San Bernardino and Riverside Counties; Co-Chair for the African American Task Force for the Network for a Healthy California, Cancer Prevention and Nutrition Section; and I am currently the Treasurer for the California Counties Local Health Department Nutritionists (CCLHDN).

We still need African American students to become health professionals in all fields because they will have the cultural expertise to work with us and help stop the epidemics of health problems plaguing people such as obesity, heart disease, cancer, diabetes, hypertension, and kidney disease

What is something most people don’t know about you?
I enjoy traveling and in high school I was a foreign exchange student for the Youth For Understanding program. For 6 weeks and the rest of my life, I became part of the family in Brasilia and Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Recently, I was part of a Nutrition and Wellness Delegation for the People to People program and I traveled to South Africa where I visited Johannesburg, Capetown, and Robbin Island where Mandela was a prisoner for many years. In the future, I plan to visit France since I studied the language for seven years during school. I am a member of the Black History Committee of Riverside, current member and a past Chair of the American Cancer Society’s African American Outreach Committee, member of Riverside Community Diabetes Collaborative (RCDC), Advisory Committee for Riverside Community Health Foundation, and member of Bethel AME Church in Perris.

What, if any, would you change about the Inland Empire? And why?
I have been very concerned about the health of our community and I dream of ways to solve the health problems that is killing us at the drive-thru and the convenience store. In the last 30 years we have had epidemics of obesity, heart attacks, high blood pressure, cancer, diabetes, osteoporosis, and many other major health problems. I am more and more convinced that a reduction in our intake of sugar will make the biggest impact in resolving our health problems when we eat a healthier diet. Sugars in the form of high fructose corn syrup and xx are found in sodas, sugary beverages, alcohol and in many food products that you would not suspect. Our bodies take in so much sugar which is converted to fat when we should be eating fewer processed foods and more natural foods filled with nutrients from the land and sun like those found on the outer aisles of the grocery stores such as fruits, vegetables, dairy, meats, and bread. In our county, I will serve as a lead for a statewide obesity prevention campaign and healthier eating called “Rethink Your Drink.” We will be promoting healthier options like water and non-fat or low-fat milk (1%) instead of sodas and sugary drinks. Instantly, by drinking less sugar, this would be a major way for anyone to improve their health.

What do you like to do in your free time?
I love to write and I can spend hours and hours at home writing and re-writing my latest project. For example, I wrote CHAMPIONS, a poem about the inspiration felt by the nation when President Barack Obama was elected and I am so very proud of the presidential thanks I received from The White House signed by Barack and Michelle Obama. Today you might find me at home writing and re-writing the bestselling book I plan to author. Then there are many other times when I enjoy visiting the tourist sites of Southern California or taking my mother to dinner and a concert because she’s my favorite girl.

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