Community Efforts Target Diabetes Prevention Among Hispanics in Los Angeles
The Los Angeles Times on Monday examined local efforts to prevent diabetes among Hispanics, including the use of promotoras, or individuals who provide health information to fellow community members.
Sixteen promotoras work at Hathaway-Sycamore Child and Family Services, teaching Hispanics in six-week programs about how to eat healthfully and exercise. Class members exercise for 15 minutes and also prepare food.
Since 1999, 26,000 Hispanic adults have attended the program. Ana Melo, who has been a promotora for eight years, said each week she asks class participants to change one habit that affects their health outcome.
"We know it's not easy to start. But they try," she said, adding, "We come from a very healthy culture. When we come to the United States, we change. We eat hot dogs. We forget about apples, squash, wild vegetables and beans."
A study conducted in 2002 found that the risk of diabetes was reduced by 58% if individuals with pre-diabetes lost 15 pounds, the Times reports. Study participants attended classes over 24 weeks and were taught to have healthier diets and to increase exercise. They also had lifestyle coaches. Participants lost an average of 15 pounds in the first year and maintained a weight-loss of nearly 9 pounds after three years.
Another effort, the Los Angeles-based Keck Diabetes Prevention Initiative, targets communities in specific ZIP codes with high rates of obesity and diabetes-related deaths (Brink, Los Angeles Times, 5/7).