Study Indicates Need for Tailored Nutrition Education for Hispanic Women With or at Risk of Diabetes
One-third of Hispanic women with diabetes living in Connecticut have never seen a registered dietitian or diabetes health educator, and nutrition knowledge was limited even among those who had, according to a study in the June issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Reuters Health reports. Hispanics have nearly double the risk of developing type 2 diabetes than whites, and poor nutrition has been linked to a higher risk of the disease, the study noted.
For the study, researchers at Rutgers interviewed 201 Hispanic women living in Hartford, Conn. -- most of whom were of Puerto Rican decent -- about their knowledge of diabetes and proper nutrition. One hundred of the women had type 2 diabetes. Researchers found that:
- 64 of the women with diabetes had seen a diabetes educator or dietitian -- this group had higher scores on a nutrition knowledge test than those who had not consulted a professional;
- Two-thirds of the diabetics who had consulted a professional read food labels to choose low-sugar foods, compared with one-third of the diabetic women who had not seen a professional; and
- Among all women, those who scored higher on the nutrition knowledge test consumed more fruits and vegetables and less meat, ate salty snacks less frequently and were more than twice as likely to read food labels.
According to the study, "The current findings suggest a need for nutrition education interventions in the study population. Moving beyond just preferring regular sugar vs. artificial sweeteners seems to be an obvious educational need. Saturated fat, fiber and daily food group intake recommendations need to be included in the educational interventions because these were among the topics that were least known to the participants."
Study researcher Nargul Fitzgerald of Rutgers noted that cultural barriers, lack of knowledge of available services and cost are key barriers to diabetes and nutrition education among the group. She said, "We don't have enough services, we don't have enough certified diabetes educators or nutritionists who can speak the language or who are culturally competent enough to work with" Hispanics (Harding, Reuters Health, 6/18).
An abstract of the study is available online. This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.