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Arizona State University students to focus on Latino youth to combat diabetes

Arizona State University nursing and health innovation student Tatiana Alvarado, 19, speaks to community members about curbing obesity during a nutrition course at ASU’s Nutrition Kitchen at the Downtown Phoenix campus Sept. 23. According to researchers at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, almost half of all post-Millennial youth will be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. (Photo: Deanna Dent/ASU News)

PHOENIX — Through a recent community-based prevention and study program, Arizona State University students are working to prevent diabetes with the help of the Latino population, according to

The program, called “Every Little Step Counts,” is a five-year, $1.2 million study funded by the National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparities. The program will test the effects and benefits to creating a community-based intervention plan among Latino youth.

Latino youth are leading the way in diagnoses for type 2 diabetes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Gabriel Shaibi, an associate professor with the College of Nursing and Health Innovation and principal investigator on the trial, said Latinos are more likely to be diagnosed with diabetes due to their genetics.

“Once you are diagnosed with diabetes, it becomes a management issue,” he said in an interview with ASU News. “This is a relatively new phenomenon with kids, but it can ultimately lead to neuropathy, blindness, kidney disease and ultimately heart attacks. Those kids on average lose about 15 years on life.”

In addition to their genetic makeup, Latinos are more likely to use food to express their feelings, College of Nursing and Health Innovation student Tatianna Alvarado said.

“Anything that happens in the Latino culture, be it positive or negative — birthdays, graduations, weddings, anniversaries, promotions, funerals — food plays a big part,” she said in an interview with ASU News. “It’s interaction and eating, but you don’t really notice you’re overeating until after the fact. Moderation is the key, and that’s what we’re trying to teach the Latino community.”

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