USC Doctors Tackle Diabetes Epidemic in Minority Areas
Two physicians at USC's Keck School of Medicine are working to identify innovative ways to treat and prevent at-risk populations, such as Latino and black communities, for type 2 diabetes, Newsweek reports.
Francine Kaufman and Anne Peters in 2004 partnered to study diabetes and ways to tailor treatments for high-risk areas in East Los Angeles, which comprises mostly Hispanics, and South Los Angeles, which has a mix of blacks and Hispanics.
The physicians identified problems, such as a lack of grocery stores with fresh foods, an oversupply of fast-food restaurants and a fear of food shortages.
A survey of residents in the two areas found that:
- About 33% of the American-born Hispanics and blacks said they had gone hungry at least once in the last year;
- About half of the immigrants said they had gone hungry at least once in the last year; and
- About 71% of mothers said they thought their children were of normal weight, but between 50% and 66% of them were actually overweight or obese.
The physicians countered the problems by teaching the community healthy food habits, setting up a farmers' market in Watts and testing a hospital-based diet and exercise education program for high-risk, overweight children and dietary instruction for parents.
Peters also leads a team two to three days a week to care for 2,000 working-class immigrant diabetics in a Los Angeles County-run clinic in East Los Angeles, Newsweek reports.
Kaufman, who heads the Center for Diabetes, Endocrinology & Metabolism at Children's Hospital in Los Angeles, also leads a national study team to see if innovative changes in school cafeterias, health classes and gym programs can lower obesity and blood sugar levels for middle school children.
Seventh-grade students at 21 schools are participating in the study, including Cecil B. DeMille Middle School in Long Beach. The results will be compared with a control group of children at 21 similar schools. Half of the 6,300 children enrolled in the study last year were overweight or obese (Murr, Newsweek, 9/17). This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.