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Release: Nov. 13, 2002

Children's Hospital of Iowa to educate Hispanic youth about diabetes

Specialists in the Pediatric Diabetes Service of Children's Hospital of Iowa will help Hispanic students in the West Liberty school district learn more about their risk for diabetes and how they can prevent the disease and remain healthy during a special program from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 18.

The Diabetes Awareness and Education Program for Hispanic Youth is targeting schools across the nation where at least one half of the student body consists of Latinos. Organizers launched the program in the month of November to coincide with Diabetes Awareness Month. Some 25 communities with a significant percentage of Hispanic citizens will participate in the program through partnerships between schools and their local hospitals. In addition, five communities in Oklahoma will offer culturally specific information on diabetes awareness to Native American Youth.

The partnership between Children's Hospital of Iowa and the schools in West Liberty will focus on helping students lower their risk for developing Type 2 diabetes or manage the disorder by maintaining a health body weight and exercising regularly. Eva Tsalikian, M.D., an associate professor in the University of Iowa department of pediatrics and a pediatric endocrinologist, will serve as medical director of the Iowa arm of the project.

"This a very important effort. The number of children and young adults under the age of 20 who are diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes has tripled in the last five years," Tsalikian said. "Children of Hispanic or Native American backgrounds have the highest rates of Type 2 diabetes in the pediatric population."

Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of the disease and usually affects people older than age 40. According to the American Diabetes Association, fewer than 4 percent of children diagnosed with diabetes 10 years ago were affected by the Type 2 form of the disorder. Today, that figure has increased to 40 percent. Jeanne Sheetz, a registered nurse and a pediatric diabetes nurse clinician, will work closely with students and their families. Rhonda Barr, a licensed physical therapist, and Linda Snetselaar, Ph.D., a research dietician, will assist with the exercise and nutrition portions of the program.

"We will reach out to these children and their parents or guardians to help provide them with information and life skills to take a proactive approach against Type 2 diabetes," Sheetz said.

More than 35 million Hispanics comprise about 12.5 percent of the total U.S. population. Between 1999 and 2000, the number of Latinos in America increased by nearly 13 million.

The Children's Hospital of Iowa at UI Hospitals and Clinics in Iowa City is the state's longest-serving children's hospital. More than 100,000 children receive care at the Children's Hospital of Iowa and its statewide network of outreach clinics each year.

University of Iowa Health Care describes the partnership between the University of Iowa Roy J. and Lucille A. Carver College of Medicine and UI Hospitals and Clinics and the patient care, medical education and research programs and services they provide. Visit UI Health Care online at