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Dietary Changes Shield Latino Teens From Diabetes

Study found high-fiber, low-sugar regimen reduced risk factors

MONDAY, April 6 (HealthDay News) -- Increasing fiber intake and reducing sugar consumption can help reduce type 2 diabetes risk factors in Latino teens, a new study shows.

"Latino children are more insulin-resistant and thus more likely to develop obesity-related chronic diseases than their white counterparts. To date, only a few studies have examined the effects of a high-fiber, low-sugar diet on metabolic health in overweight youth, and to our knowledge, none have tested the effects of this type of intervention in a mixed-sex group of Latino youth," wrote Emily Ventura, from the Keck School of Medicine, University of Southern California, Los Angeles, and colleagues.

Their 16-week study included 54 overweight Latino teens (average age 15.5) who were divided into three groups: a control group; a group that received nutrition classes once a week, and a group that received nutrition education plus strength training twice a week.

By the end of the study, 55 percent of teens in all three groups decreased their sugar intake by an average of 47 grams per day (equal to the amount in one can of soda) and 59 percent increased their fiber consumption by an average of 5 grams per day (equal to the fiber in a half cup of beans).

The teens who lowered their sugar intake had an average 33 percent reduction in insulin secretion and those who boosted their fiber consumption had an average 10 percent decrease in the amount of fat surrounding their internal organs (visceral fat).

"A reduction in visceral fat indicates a reduction in risk for type 2 diabetes, considering that to a greater degree than total body fat, visceral fat has been shown to be negatively associated with insulin sensitivity," the researchers wrote.

The study also found that teens who increased their fiber intake had a 2 percent decrease in body-mass index (BMI), while those who decreased their fiber intake had a 2 percent increase in BMI.

The study appears in the April issue of the Archives of Pediatrics & Adolescent Medicine.

"Our results suggest that intensive interventions may not be necessary to achieve modifications in sugar and fiber intake. Accordingly, nutritional guidance given in the primary care or community setting may be sufficient to promote the suggested dietary changes in some individuals," the authors concluded.

"In addition, policies that promote reduced intake of added sugar and increased intake of fiber could be effective public health strategies for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in this high-risk population," the team said.

More information

The Nemours Foundation has more about overweight and obese children.

-- Robert Preidt

SOURCE: JAMA/Archives journals, news release, April 6, 2009

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