ADA: Diabetes Risk Reduction Program Has Mixed Results

School-based intervention fails to reduce rate of overweight and obesity but shows other benefits
By Rick Ansorge
HealthDay Reporter

MONDAY, June 28 (HealthDay News) -- A school-based intervention addressing the increased risk of obesity and type 2 diabetes in particular ethnic and socioeconomic groups did not result in greater decreases in the rate of overweight and obesity than at schools not performing an intervention, but it may be associated with significant decreases in other indexes of adiposity, according to a study published online June 27 in the New England Journal of Medicine to coincide with presentation at the American Diabetes Association's 70th Scientific Sessions, held from June 25 to 29 in Orlando, Fla.

Gary D. Foster, Ph.D., of Temple University in Philadelphia, and colleagues from the HEALTHY Study Group randomly assigned 42 schools to either the school-based program -- which emphasized nutrition, physical activity, behavioral knowledge and skills, and communications and social marketing -- or assessment only. Participants included 4,603 students -- 54.2 percent of them Hispanic and 18 percent of them black -- who were assessed for body mass index (BMI), waist circumference, and fasting glucose and insulin levels at the beginning of sixth grade and the end of eighth grade.

Although the primary outcome -- the combined prevalence of overweight and obesity -- decreased in the intervention and control schools, the researchers found that there were no significant group differences. However, they found that the intervention was associated with greater decreases in secondary outcomes such as BMI z score, percentage of students with waist circumference of at least the 90th percentile, and fasting insulin levels.

"These changes may reduce the risk of childhood-onset type 2 diabetes," the authors conclude. "The observation that the rates of overweight and obesity declined among the adolescents in the control schools is encouraging. The reasons for this finding are unclear and should be explored with the use of other recently compiled longitudinal data sets."

Several medical device and other companies provided funding for the study.

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