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Mexican American adolescent perceptions: Preventing diabetes

Kathleen M. May, DNSc, RN and Raquel Tanner, BSN, RN. School of Nursing, The University of Texas at Austin, 1700 Red River, Austin, TX 78701-1499, 512-232-4719, kmay@mail.nur.utexas.edu

Background: In the past decade, studies have documented an increase in type 2 diabetes and an increase in diabetic risk factors, particularly obesity and low levels of physical activity, in Mexican American children and adolescents. Explanatory models reveal links between beliefs and behaviors. Knowing youths' explanatory model of diabetes prevention can provide guidance in planning interventions to address prevention and reduction of risk factors. Purpose: To describe Mexican American youths’ explanatory model of preventing diabetes in 12-14 year olds as a basis for planning culturally relevant health promotion. Method: In this ethnographic study, data were collected through audiotaped interviews in Spanish and English, completion of a demographic data form, and participant observation. The sample was 20 youths (8 males; 12 females) of Mexican origin, 12-14 years old. Results: Participants said heredity, not eating right, and getting angry are causes of diabetes. They believe they can prevent diabetes by eating healthy foods and if their parents buy and serve healthy foods and teach them the consequences, including diabetes, if they do not eat right. They see some barriers to healthy weight and physical activity as: eating too much, being lazy or tired, watching TV, eating the wrong foods, and parents’ buying the wrong foods. They give examples of what they believe they and their parents can do to facilitate a healthy weight and doing physical activity. They want to know “healthier junk foods” so they can make better choices, like eating better food. Based on participants' comments, there are recommendations for how public health nurses and other public health professionals can encourage physical activity and promote healthier eating at school and home, with the long term goal of promoting health and preventing diabetes.

Learning Objectives: By the conclusion of the session the participant will be able to

Keywords: Diabetes, Latinos

Presenting author's disclosure statement:
I do not have any significant financial interest/arrangement or affiliation with any organization/institution whose products or services are being discussed in this session.


The 132nd Annual Meeting (November 6-10, 2004) of APHA