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NIH Study of Children Aimed at Preventing Juvenile Diabetes

By Christina A. Samuels — November 06, 2006 | Corrected: February 22, 2019 1 min read
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Corrected: An earlier version of this story misstated the intent of a study to be conducted by the National Institutes of Health. The study will examine ways to combat Type 2 diabetes in youths.

Children across the country are rolling up their sleeves for blood tests as a part of a major new study in juvenile-diabetes prevention.

The Healthy Study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, in Bethesda, Md., will try to determine whether changes in school food and physical education classes can ward off Type 2 diabetes, an increasingly common disease in children. Type 2 diabetes, the most common form of the disease, is caused by a buildup of glucose in the blood. High blood-glucose levels can eventually have serious health effects, such as heart, kidney, or nerve damage.

About 5,000 6th graders in 42 middle schools will participate in the study, which will be completed in 2009. Students in the program group will receive healthier food choices in the school cafeteria and from school vending machines; longer, more intense physical education classes; and lessons that promote long-term healthy behaviors. Children will be monitored in California, North Carolina, Oregon, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

Previous studies have attempted to address childhood obesity using the same methods. Few have shown positive results in affecting children’s weight. But juvenile diabetes, though often found in obese children, is a different disorder and may be influenced by different factors, said Gary D. Foster, the study’s chairman and the director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University in Philadelphia.

For example, though exercise alone does not have a strong effect on weight without diet changes, “it does have an effect on insulin levels,” Mr. Foster said.

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A version of this article appeared in the November 08, 2006 edition of Education Week

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