In a pilot study conducted at American Indian reservations in Montana, culturally appropriate diabetes prevention strategies helped young people increase their physical activity and improve their diet.
Using the Diabetes Prevention Program as a model, researchers developed the JOURNEY to Native Youth Health lifestyle change program. The diabetes prevention strategies targeted healthy weight maintenance, lowering fat intake and increasing physical activity. Cultural aspects were fused within the JOURNEY program and included berry picking, horseback riding, dancing, use of storytelling to convey information, sessions led as talking circles and participation of elders.
The study included 64 Native American adolescents aged 10 to 14 years who were living on two American Indian reservations. Participants were randomly assigned to the lifestyle intervention or to a comparison group, and data were collected at baseline and after nine intervention sessions.
After the nine sessions, adolescents in the intervention group had 54% more minutes of moderate and vigorous activity compared with the comparison group. Additionally, energy, which was measured by kilocalories, expended in post-test measures was 27% higher in the treatment group vs. the comparison group. Adolescents assigned to the intervention also had an average decline in percent of kilocalories from fat intake that was four times greater than that of the comparison group. At the end-of-study test, the intervention group increased their nutrition knowledge, attitude and belief (KAB) score by 8%; the comparison group had no change in score.
Brown attributed much of the program’s success to the interactive collaboration between community members, tribal leaders and project staff involved in its development.
“This study suggests the treatment curricula can impact important indicators of future diabetes risk and sets the stage for a full-scale trial of the JOURNEY to Native Youth program,” the researchers concluded.
Brown DB. 0299-OR. Presented at: American Diabetes Association’s 71st Scientific Sessions; June 24-28, 2011; San Diego.
Disclosure: The researchers report no relevant financial disclosures.