Diet change cuts diabetes risk in Latino teens

Eating less sugar and more fiber can reduce the risk of diabetes in overweight Latino adolescents, new research shows.

Furthermore, according to findings in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, elaborate programs may not be necessary to promote these dietary changes.

Dr. Michael Goran, of the University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and colleagues analyzed data from a 16-week clinical trial in which 66 overweight Latino teens were assigned to one of three groups: (1) a nutrition-only group, with weekly classes directed at reducing sugar and increasing fiber intake, (2) nutrition education plus twice-weekly strength training, and (3) a comparison group with no intervention other than occasional non-health related incentives (such as t-shirts) and phone calls to enhance retention.

The percentage of teens that reduced sugar intake and increased fiber intake was similar in all three groups, hovering around 55 and 59 percent, respectively.

Participants who reduced their sugar intake had significant drops in blood glucose levels and in insulin levels. Both of these changes would be expected to decrease their risk of diabetes.

Also, those who increased their fiber intake had a significant drop in body weight-for-height and in body fat levels.

“Given that the (comparison) group demonstrated similar dietary changes as the intervention groups, our results suggest that intensive interventions may not be necessary to achieve modifications in sugar and fiber intake,” the researchers note. “Accordingly, nutritional guidance given in the primary care or community setting may be sufficient to promote the suggested dietary changes in some individuals.”

SOURCE: Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine, April, 2009.

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