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UMass clinical study helps reduce diabetes risk among Latinos


WORCESTER, Mass. — Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School said a diabetes prevention program they created was able to reduce prediabetes indicators among Latinos who were at risk of developing the disease.

The clinical trial, called the Lawrence Latino Diabetes Prevention Project, was developed to test how a community-based, literacy-sensitive and culturally tailored lifestyle intervention could help low-income, Spanish-speaking Latinos with increased risk for diabetes. Consisting of more than 300 participants that were followed for one year between 2004 and 2007, each participant was introduced to weight control, nutrition and exercise programs (led by Spanish-speaking individuals) through such community partners as the Greater Lawrence Family Health Center, the Lawrence Senior Center and the YWCA of Greater Lawrence.

When these participants were compared with those who had usual care (or no intervention), participants in the intervention had "modest but significant" weight reduction and "clinically meaningful" reduction in indicators for prediabetes, including insulin resistance, the researchers said. They also consumed a lower percentage of total and saturated fat in their diets, according to principal investigator Ira Ockene, Barbara D. Milliken professor of preventive cardiology and professor of medicine; Milagros Rosal, associate professor of medicine, and other colleagues from UMass Worcester and UMass Lowell.

"The study results are important as they suggest that small reductions in weight may reduce the risk of diabetes in some ethnic populations that have a high risk for developing diabetes, such as disadvantaged Latinos," Rosal said.

The Lawrence Latino Diabetes Prevention Project National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health in 2004. Results of this three-year study were published online in the American Journal of Public Health.

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