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Arizona nun helps Gila River Indian community fight obesity

In the Gila River Indian community south of the Valley, one nun continues to make a difference by helping children fight obesity.

“Knowing the propensity our people have for diabetes, we start our day out running. We’re giving them the skills, life-long healthy habits,” Sister Martha Mary Carpenter said as she was featured this month on CBS Evening News.

CBS’ 60 Minutes visited Carpenter at Saint Peter Mission School in 2003 and featured the nun’s fight to help a community that struggled with childhood obesity — and even adult onset diabetes affecting children.

While obesity is still a problem, there have been improvements made.

In 2003, Carpenter fought to make the school’s meal plan more healthy, “low on carbohydrates, higher on protein, fresh fruit and fresh vegetables,” she said.

The results of that battle, combined with teaching the children how to live a more healthy lifestyle, is paying off more than a decade later.

“This year we may have several children who are pre-diabetic but we don’t have any children who have that dreaded disease,” Carpenter said.

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