Reducing diabetes risk factors in schools

Tue, 10 Oct 2006
Researchers are trying to determine if students at six North Carolina middle schools can lower their risk factors for type 2 diabetes .

The study, which begins this fall, is part of the nationwide HEALTHY study sponsored by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). The HEALTHY study will enroll thousands of sixth graders in 42 middle schools throughout the United States. Participating schools will be randomly assigned two groups, one that implements more physical activity offers healthier foods and teaches students about healthy behaviors, and one that offers food choices and activity programs typical of US middle schools .

"We hope to learn if changes in schools such as better food options, improvements in physical activity programs and education about eating better and moving more result in healthier kids and lower risk factors for type 2 diabetes," said Dr. Joanne Harrell, the principal investigator.

While there are no national data on the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in youth, clinics around the country are reporting that more young people, especially from minority groups, are developing the disease, Harrell said.

Some of the schools will provide healthier choices from the cafeteria and vending machines that include lower-fat foods, more fruits and vegetables, and drinks with no added sugar.

These schools will also provide activities and awareness campaigns that promote long-term healthy behaviors as well as longer, more intense periods of physical activity.
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