Groups to tackle diabetes with week-long campaign

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Two out of three people with diabetes die from heart disease or stroke, according to the American Diabetes Association.

To spread the word about the severity of the disease, several UT student groups will host a series of events for Diabetes Awareness Week.

Event organizers rallied on the West Mall on Monday to invite students to the week’s events and hand out information about the disease.

The Hispanic Student Association and the Hispanic Health Professions Organization will join several other campus organizations to host events all week. Experts will speak about diabetes in the Texas Union today at 7 p.m. The League of United Latin American Citizens will host a fitness field day in the South Mall lawn Wednesday at 6 p.m.

Proceeds from Thursday’s benefit dinner will go to the American Diabetes Association. Texas Latin Dance will lead a salsa workshop Friday afternoon. All of the events lead up to the Step Out Walk to Fight Diabetes on Saturday morning.

Eunice Castro, vice president of the Hispanic Health Professions Organization, said diabetes is prominent in the Hispanic community because traditional food is high in fat and carbohydrates. Hispanic groups on campus will be hosting most of the Diabetes Awareness Week events.

According to the American Diabetes Association’s website, diabetes is more prevalent in minority communities.

Although genetic, cultural and economic factors increase diabetes in minorities and everyone is at risk, said Daniel Foster, a diabetes and metabolic research professor at UT Southwestern
Medical School.

“Diets are bad everywhere,” he said. “All you have to do is look at the commercials for hamburgers; it’s not just minorities that are obese with poor diets.”

Foster said that unlike cancer, diabetes can be cured through weight loss, but only 5 percent of diabetics make the lifestyle changes necessary to lose weight.

John Ivy, professor of kinesiology and health education, said although it is best to get 30 to 45 minutes of aerobic exercise a day, any little bit helps.

“If you take somebody who is very sedentary and get them walking daily, there are big gains, and they will improve as they increase frequency and intensity,” Ivy said.

Type 2 diabetes involves the body’s resistance to insulin and can be prevented through diet and exercise. Type 1 is genetic and cannot be prevented.

Ivy said that because Type 2 is about 10 times more common and preventable, it receives more attention than Type 1.

Diabetes causes other health complications, such as kidney failure, blindness and gangrene, which can require limb amputation, he said.