Educating High-Risk Groups About Diabetes

Published Online: Friday, November 1, 2002

In mid-October, health care industry officials announced a plan targeting 25 schools in 23 cities with student and family diabetes awareness manuals, nutrition counseling, and physician referrals for children with diabetes risk factors. The goal is to reach as many as 10,000 children and adolescents.

The plan is aimed at stemming rising type 2 diabetes rates among Hispanic and American Indian children. Those 2 ethnic groups show some of the fastest-rising rates of the largely preventable disease, which experts attribute to a widespread lack of physical activity and skyrocketing obesity rates.

Nearly 11% of Hispanics and 15% of Native Americans and Alaskan Natives are now thought to have type 2 diabetes, versus roughly 6.2% of the nation overall, according to figures from the American Diabetes Association.

One recent study found a 68% increase in the incidence of type 2 diabetes in American Indian and Alaskan native adolescents between 1990 and 1998, said Michel Lincoln, deputy director of the Indian Health Service at the US Department of Health and Human Services. ?A little over 40 years ago there were no diagnosed cases of diabetes in Indian country,? Lincoln said.

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