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TODAY news for Thursday, December 1, 2005

Loma Linda University news

Study proves link between health education and well-being of Hispanic diabetics

Vicente Bernal
Vicente Bernal smiles after receiving his certificate for participating in the diabetes education study on October 25. Each participant also received $100 for finishing the study.
People living with diabetes can often greatly improve their well-being through positive lifestyle choices such as eating healthfully and exercising. But knowledge is required in order for people to make the best choices for their health.

Because of the nature of health disparities, some subpopulations don’t always have the knowledge they need.

A study conducted by the School of Public Health has shown that diabetes education to an underserved, low-income Hispanic community of the San Bernardino area can dramatically improve health measures such as percent body fat, total cholesterol, total cholesterol/LDL ratio, and blood glucose levels.

“Many Hispanic diabetics often have limited access to diabetes education,” says Zaida Cordero-MacIntyre, PhD, principal investigator in the study and assistant professor, department of nutrition, School of Public Health.

Results of the study are favorable and so far indicate significant changes in the subjects’ understanding of blood sugar control, living healthfully with diabetes, and decreasing the risk of diabetes-related complications such as retinopathy, nephropathy, neuropathy, and vasculopathy.

The results of the study show significant reductions in 1) body weight, 2) hemoglobin A1C, 3) fasting blood glucose, 4) leptin, and 5) percent body fat. There was also a significant increase in HDL cholesterol.

Specifically, fasting blood sugar decreased from mean baseline values of 166 mg/dL to 143.21 mg/dL at three months.

Additionally, some participants reported that their doctor decreased or discontinued their medication for diabetes due to the fact that blood sugar had decreased significantly in these participants.

“This provided an opportunity for this population to learn the skills needed to control their diabetes and thus reduce complications,” Dr. Cordero-MacIntyre says.

For the study, 34 Hispanic diabetics participated in eight hours of free diabetes education conducted in Spanish. Hispanic School of Public Health students and other Hispanic health care professionals taught the culturally sensitive lessons.

The participants also underwent baseline and three subsequent months of a series of health studies to determine the education’s effect on health measures such as blood glucose control, lipid profile, and body composition.

The study was called “Impact of Diabetes Education in the Hispanic Community.” The subjects were recruited from Loma Linda University SAC–Norton Clinic and the San Bernardino medical clinic of Anthony Firek, MD. Dr. Firek reported that his patients have a renewed sense of well-being and are happy as a result of having their blood sugar better under control.

Public health students Gemechu Kurfessa; Madeline Sanchez, MPH; Maribet Rivera, MPH; and David Fukuda, MD, worked on the study with Dr. Cordero-MacIntyre.

TODAY news for Thursday, December 1, 2005