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April 12, 2010  

Education can mean prevention for Londoners with prediabetes

Prediabetes ResearchLondon, ON – Brescia University College Professor Isabelle Giroux has received funding from The Lawson Foundation to advance research and education that will help Londoners identified with Prediabetes (pre-DM) to make smart lifestyle choices that will help delay or prevent the onset of Type 2 Diabetes (T2DM).

Pre-DM is defined as the presence of impaired fasting glucose and/or impaired glucose tolerance. Giroux said it is a serious and complex health condition affecting many Canadians. “Pre-DM is a diagnosis that puts people at high risk of developing T2DM, heart disease, and other health problems. The prevalence of this chronic disease has been increasing such that the number of Canadians with T2DM is projected to reach 2.4 million in 2010.”

The Lawson Foundation has provided funding for two years of research and community education to be conducted by Giroux, the principal investigator, with Drs. Paula Dworatzek and Danielle Battram, also of Brescia. There are also integral roles for three graduate students, four undergraduate research assistants, and a team of several undergraduate volunteer students. All of the faculty members involved have experience in community-based nutrition and research and the participating students are studying Foods and Nutrition at Brescia and will receive professional training by a team that includes a Certified Diabetes Educator.

While the funding supports two years of the project, the outcomes will be sustainable and shared via a web site, through education in the community and in the classroom, in presentations at professional conferences, and through manuscripts. “Locally, this project will strengthen the delivery of pre-DM health services through community-based patient-centred healthy lifestyle intervention. This will entail a self-management focus in order to engage the high-risk population of individuals diagnosed with pre-DM living in London,” Giroux said.

This new project builds on the work of the “Prediabetes initiative and partnership” that Giroux created in 2007 in partnership with the Diabetes Education Centre (DEC) of St. Joseph’s Health Care London. The partnership identified individuals diagnosed with pre-DM and offered education to increase awareness of their risk factors to develop T2DM and healthy lifestyle options – ideally helping them to delay or prevent T2DM. Studies show that lifestyle interventions that target physical activity and diet reduce the risk for developing T2DM by about 58 per cent.

“We estimate that 240 individuals with pre-DM will have attended our Prediabetes Lifestyle and Behaviour Change Intervention Program in 2010-2012. Indicators of success will be for each individual to have made and sustained for one year at least six positive lifestyle changes, thereby having made efforts to self-manage their pre-DM and sustain their quality of life,” Giroux said.

The objectives of the project include assessing and comparing the baseline characteristics of a population of adults aged 30-59 years, and older adults aged 60 and older, diagnosed with pre-DM in the London community. In addition, the project will implement and evaluate the overall effectiveness of the "Prediabetes Lifestyle and Behaviour Change Intervention Program." All project outcomes will be evaluated to see how helpful the project is for the targeted population and to assess the experiential learning of Foods and Nutrition students.

“We saw a learning opportunity for students to develop their skills as future health care workers and community workers. It’s a very unique partnership. As far as I know it’s the only one in Canada. It started as a partnership between DEC and Brescia and the research came after. The Canadian Diabetes Association – Southwest Ontario Regional Leadership Centre and the Canadian Centre for Activity and Aging at the University of Western Ontario are now part of the partnership.  We’re hoping that through this research we can measure outcomes and assist in the development of guidelines to help adults manage pre-DM and delay diabetes. The program and the partnership will be helpful for our community for sure, and likely others, too.”

For more information about the Prediabetes Initiative and Partnership, please visit http://www.brescia.uwo.ca/prediabetes_initiative/

Brescia University College, Canada’s premier women’s university college, is affiliated with The University of Western Ontario. The 1,100 women registered as either full or part-time students at Brescia study a wide variety of subjects in Arts, Social Sciences, and Foods & Nutrition in an empowering, compassionate, student-centred, and invigorating environment. Degrees are granted by Western. The Catholic College welcomes students from all backgrounds and values diversity. For more information, please visit www.brescia.uwo.ca

For more information, please contact:

Dr. Isabelle Giroux
Professor in the Division of Foods and Nutritional Sciences
519.432.8353, ext. 28255
E-mail: igiroux@uwo.ca