Scientific Sessions Update: Adapting the Diabetes Prevention Program for Native American Youth

The Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) was a landmark study published nearly ten years ago that showed that lifestyle changes, such as losing modest amounts of weight and increasing physical activity, could prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes.

At nearly 17 percent, American Indians and Alaska Natives have the highest age-adjusted prevalence of diabetes among all U.S. racial and ethnic groups. Researchers presented a study this afternoon at Scientific Sessions that aimed to use the goals of the DPP with tactics that were adapted to be culturally and age appropriate for Native American youth.

The study used culturally specific means of increasing physical activity, including Native games and dancing, berry picking and horseback riding. Another intervention that was used was harnessing the tradition of storytelling to share health information.

Participants who were in the intervention group burned more calories, ate less fat, had higher amounts of physical activity and spent less time doing sedentary activities than youth who were not a part of the intervention group. This is great news for the potential to adapt DPP tactics to be appropriate for youth in Native American communities and, perhaps, other cultures as well.

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