Dialing for Diabetes Advice

Diabetes lifestyle intervention may help prevent diabetes in poor communities

(RxWiki News) Many poor Americans are stuck with insufficient health insurance. Unfortunately, they also have a higher risk of diabetes.

As such, some good may come from diabetes prevention programs geared towards America's urban poor.

A telephone-based diabetes prevention program appears to be an effective way to teach healthy lifestyle choices that reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.

"Eat healthy and shed weight to lower your risk of diabetes."

Americans living in poverty have it rough when it comes to health care. They tend to have little or no health insurance coverage while also having an increased risk of a variety of health problems, including type 2 diabetes.

Recents findings by Alka M. Kanaya, MD, of the University of California, San Francisco, and colleagues show that a certain lifestyle intervention program could help poor Americans avoid diabetes.

Past studies have shown that type 2 diabetes can be prevented through counseling and other lifestyle intervention programs.

However, these programs are designed for the doctor's office - something many Americans don't have access to - and require patients to meet with a number of health professionals in many separate meetings. As such, these interventions are costly and too big to apply to large urban populations.

This new intervention is an inexpensive, community-based approach designed specifically for the urban poor. Patients who are at risk of diabetes are contacted by phone once a month and given advice on diet and other lifestyle choices.

Because the program is telephone-based, the researchers could reach a larger population at a lower cost than other interventions.

In the study, participants who received counseling lost more weight, ate less fatty foods, and ate more fruits and vegetables compared to those who did not receive counseling.

Patients in the intervention program also lowered their levels of triglycerides - a type of fat that can build up in the blood of diabetes patients, increasing the risk of heart attack and stroke.

"Diabetes is not something you are necessarily going to get just because it runs in your family," says Dr. Kanaya. "It is very preventable, and lifestyle changes can really impact the onset of diabetes."

According to Dr. Kanaya, "This [intervention program] adds to our public health toolkit of ways to do outreach and prevent diabetes."

This research was funded by the National Institutes of Health and the Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research.

The study is published in the American Journal of Public Health.

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Review Date: 
June 21, 2012