UNLV researchers and public health students, in cooperation with the Las Vegas Indian Center and Las Vegas Paiute Tribal Health Clinic, have launched Life in Balance, an effort to target an expanding and vulnerable native population rarely reached by traditional diabetes health education programs. Native Americans throughout Southern Nevada will receive health screenings, fitness information and nutritional strategies to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes -- a serious health issue that is twice as prevalent among Nevada's Native Americans than the overall average national rate.
"Though nearly 60 percent of Native Americans nationwide live in urban areas, they face the same risks of developing type 2 diabetes like that of Native Americans living on reservations, yet community outreach to urban Native Americans has been minimal," said Michelle Chino, an associate professor in the UNLV School of Community Health Sciences and Life in Balance lead investigator. "Moreover, frequent transitions in the Nevada population have made it harder for health educators to reach at-risk individuals."
UNLV researchers will test participants' body mass index (BMI), cholesterol and blood sugar levels, blood pressure and heart rate, body fat and waist circumference. Further, over the course of 16 weeks, researchers will require participants to exercise at least 150 minutes per week and meet with lifestyle coaches regularly to discuss proper nutrition and fitness --factors known to decrease the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes. The program is funded by a $300,000 grant from the National Institutes of Health.
UNLV faculty leading the initiative include Daniel Benyshek, medical anthropologist; Michelle Chino, an American Indian researcher and professor of public health and founding director of the UNLV American Indian Research Education Center and the Center for Health Disparities Research; and Carolee Dodge-Francis, an American Indian researcher and professor of public health and director of the UNLV American Indian Research Education Center. UNLV public health graduate students Crystal Lee and Tori Begay serve as lifestyle coaches.
For additional information, members of the public may contact (702) 895-2070.