Type 2 diabetes (T2DM) will strike 1 in 3 children born after 2000. This equal opportunity disease favors ethnic minorities, particularly Native Americans, Hispanics, and African Americans. The number one cause of type 2 diabetes in our children is obesity. Overweight preteens and teens with T2DM are at risk of developing heart disease before the age of thirty-five. If left unaddressed, we faced the challenge of caring for a generation that will not outlive their parents. There is a need for raising community awareness about the importance of healthy lifestyle and early screening for youths at risk for type 2 diabetes.
UNITY is a 12 month study whose goal is to decrease the prevalence of type 2 diabetes in youth. We know that obesity in youths is due to poor eating habits and lack of exercise. Studies have shown that teens that eat healthy and exercise at least 30 minutes a day are at lower risk for getting diabetes or heart disease.
We worked closely with community representatives to design a program that offers appealing and culturally appropriate nutrition and exercise classes to the community.We will determine if this program works by comparing participants to youths who do not participate in the program. We hope that children that participate in this program lose weight, become more active, and eat healthier by the end of the 12 month period.