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Modest lifestyle changes made by South Asian families could help to improve their health and wellbeing, a clinical trial shows.
Making moderate improvements to diet and levels of physical activity, gave trial participants a better chance of losing enough weight to lower their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
The study, carried out in participants' homes as opposed to hospital clinics, is the first of its kind in the UK to look specifically at South Asian cultures.
Patients lost weight reduced their hip and waist measurements and there were indications that they were less likely to become diabetic by the end of the trial, which focused on people of Indian and Pakistani-origin.
Researchers say that ethnic background and culture play an important role in shaping attitudes and behaviours towards diet and exercise.
National guidelines show that South Asian people place strong emphasis on family life and eating together. From a young age, South Asians are sensitive or at risk of health problems linked to obesity.
Men from Pakistani and Indian communities are three times more likely to develop type 2 diabetes than the general population - despite having similar Body Mass Indexes, scientists say.
The three-year trial monitored 171 people of Indian and Pakistani background living in Scotland who were already at high risk of diabetes as shown by blood tests done at the start of the trial.
Participants were given detailed advice by dieticians and offered culturally-appropriate resources to help them manage their weight through diet and exercise. At the same time, control groups were given basic advice, which was not culturally specific.
Professor Raj Bhopal, from the Centre for Population Health Sciences at the University of Edinburgh, and lead author of the study, said: "These differing approaches show us that a more family centred strategy, with culturally tailored lifestyle advice can produce significant benefits to people's health through weight loss."
The trial, which is led by scientists at the University of Edinburgh, is published in the journal Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology.
University of Edinburgh
Article adapted by Medical News Today from original press release. Source:
University of Edinburgh
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11 Mar. 2014. <http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/270520>
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