By Heather Reifsnyder
For diabetics, healthy lifestyle choices can mean the difference between wellness and illness. But local diabetics who speak only Spanish have more limited access to health education.
That’s why Loma Linda University is offering free diabetes education classes for up to 100 Spanish-speaking adult diabetics. Currently, the program’s leaders are seeking more participants. Diabetics who are interested in participating should call (909) 558-7754 as soon as possible.
The program began in early March and will last about three months. Participants undergo free initial blood and body composition tests as well as follow-up tests at the end of the study. In the interval between, participants attend approximately four evening classes, taught in Spanish by an LLU professor and students.
The culturally sensitive classes will focus on using proper nutrition and exercise to manage blood sugar levels and prevent diabetes complications, such as kidney failure, blindness, and limb amputations. Participants also receive a $25 incentive for joining the program.
This program is led by principal investigator Zaida Cordero-MacIntyre, PhD, assistant professor in the School of Public Health’s department of nutrition. LLU public health students are assisting.
“This is an outreach to members of the Hispanic community who don’t have access to health education,” says Dr. Cordero-MacIntyre, who already conducted one study like this in 2005. The study’s results—which were favorable—are currently being written for publication. Participants learned to change their dietary intake and physical activity in order to manage blood sugar.
The current study is funded by an award from the National Center on Minority Health and Health Disparities, of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and is sponsored by LLU’s recently established Center for Health Disparities and Molecular Medicine.
This new LLU center brings together researchers from different disciplines within the Schools of Medicine and Public Health who are committed to easing the disproportionate burden of diseases, such as diabetes, stroke, cancer, and HIV/AIDS, that often fall on medically underserved populations. The center is under the direction of Marino De Leon, PhD.