When Briana Kinsey competes in the Miss Alabama pageant this June, she will come with a message – to encourage children to stay active and make sure they are eating healthy food in order to prevent diabetes.
“Diabetes is a big issue in Alabama,” says the former Miss Birmingham and current Miss Hoover. “We’re the state with the highest rate of diabetes in the nation.”
Briana became an advocate for both type 1 and type 2 diabetes when her mother was diagnosed with diabetes two years ago. She was living at home at the time and the diagnoses affected the entire family. “It made us much more health conscious as a family. We started paying attention to food proportions and making sure we ate something at each meal, because before we didn’t. Diabetes kind of brought us together in a way.”
Briana wanted to deliver her message to children in particular, especially since in recent years, with childhood obesity rates increasing in the United States, more children and adolescents are being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a condition that used to be considered an adult-only disease.
To get a better understanding of diabetes and how it affects children, Briana began shadowing doctors at Children’s of Alabama’s endocrinology clinic and working at a camp for children with both types of diabetes. This gave her insight into how children live with diabetes on a day-to-day basis.
She also took her “healthy lifestyle” message on the road, speaking at schools and helping with diabetes fundraisers.
“Most children probably don’t understand what diabetes is,” she says. “So the main thing I try to tell children is to stay active and make sure they are getting a healthy diet. That’s really all they can do. Having a healthy lifestyle can have a huge impact on whether they develop diabetes.”
Briana has also found a way to use her diabetes platform to propel her own plans for the future. She is currently a student at the University of Alabama majoring in biology with a concentration in pre-medical studies. “My mother is a physician, so I always knew I wanted to do something in the medical field,” she says. “This has been a way to connect my platform to what I want to do later on when I graduate.”