Medicine Wheel Model for Nutrition Shows Promise for Control of Type 2 Diabetes

Educational Intervention Promotes Positive Changes, According to New Study Published in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association

St. Louis, MO, 9 September 2009 – American Indian populations experience significant nutrition-related health disparities compared to other racial and ethnic groups within the US. American Indian adults have the highest age-adjusted rates for cardiovascular disease, diabetes and obesity of any racial or ethnic group. Age-adjusted rates of diabetes among Native people vary from 14% to 72%, which are 2.4 to more than 6 times the rate of the general US population. In a study published in the September 2009 issue of the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, researchers from the South Dakota State University, Brookings, report that a culturally-sensitive educational program based on the Medicine Wheel Model for Nutrition shows promise in changing dietary patterns in an American Indian population and impacting glycemic control.

During a 6-month period from January 2005 through December 2005, participants from the Cheyenne River Sioux Reservation were randomized to an education intervention or to a usual care control group. The education group received six nutrition lessons based on the Medicine Wheel Model for Nutrition, a diet patterned after the traditional consumption of macronutrients for Northern Plains Indians: protein (25% of energy), moderate in carbohydrate (45% to 50% of energy) and low in fat (25% to 30% of energy). The usual care group received the usual dietary education from their personal providers.

The education group experienced a significant weight loss and decrease in body mass index (BMI) from baseline to completion. The usual care group had no change in weight or BMI. There were no between group differences due to intervention in energy, carbohydrate, protein and fat intake and physical activity.

Writing in the article, Kendra K. Kattelmann, PhD, RD, Professor and Director, Didactic Program in Dietetics, Nutrition, Food Science and Hospitality Department, South Dakota State University, Brookings, states, “A diet patterned after the historical hunter-gatherer type diet, or even the early reservation diet (with the higher proportion of energy being supplied from protein), may provide better blood glucose control and lower the circulating insulin levels in Northern Plains Indians with type 2 diabetes. Tribal leaders are interested in preserving the history of their food patterns and embrace the development of educational tools depicting their historical consumption patterns. This trial is one of the first studies reported that attempts to measure the influence of the traditional Northern Plains Indians diet on control of type 2 diabetes.”

In a commentary, Jamie Stang, PhD, MPH, RD, LN, Chair of the Public Health Nutrition Program at the University of Minnesota, School of Public Health, cites some of the dietary challenges faced by the American Indian population. “Limited access to grocery stores that offer low fat, low sugar or whole grain food products and a variety of fruits and vegetables is the most frequently cited barrier to healthy eating…The loss of hunting and fishing rights, unavailability of traditional foods such as wild game, loss of traditional agriculture due to water scarcity and poor soil condition and loss of traditional ways of procuring and preparing foods have also been identified as reasons for poor food choices. Many urban American Indians live in neighborhoods that lack large, well-stocked grocery stores which limits their availability of healthful foods…Even the most culturally competent, evidence-based programs cannot improve eating behaviors among individuals or populations who live and work in an environment that does not support or provide healthy food choices.”

The article is “The Medicine Wheel Nutrition Intervention: A Diabetes Education Study with the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe” by Kendra K. Kattelmann, PhD, RD; Kibbe Conti, MS, RD; Cuirong Ren, PhD. The commentary is “Improving Health among American Indians through Environmentally-focused Nutrition Interventions” by Jamie Stang, PhD, MPH, RD, LN. Both appear in the Journal of the American Dietetic Association, Volume 109 Issue 9 (September 2009), published by Elsevier.

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Full text of the articles featured above is available upon request. Contact Lynelle Korte at 314-447-9227 or jadamedia@elsevier.com to obtain copies. Journalists wishing to interview Kendra K. Kattelmann may contact her via email at Kendra.kattelmann@sdstate.edu or by phone at 605-688-4045. Jamie Stang may be reached via Diana Harvey, Assistant Dean for External Affairs, University of Minnesota School of Public Health, at dharvey@umn.edu or 612-625-7134 (office) or 612-845-6263 (mobile).

About The Journal of the American Dietetic Association
The official journal of the  American Dietetic Association the  Journal of the American Dietetic Association is the premier source for the practice and science of food, nutrition and dietetics. The monthly, peer-reviewed journal presents original articles prepared by scholars and practitioners and is the most widely read professional publication in the field. The journal focuses on advancing professional knowledge across the range of research and practice issues such as: nutritional science, medical nutrition therapy, public health nutrition, food science and biotechnology, foodservice systems, leadership and management and dietetics education.

About The American Dietetic Association
 The American Dietetic Association is the world’s largest organization of food and nutrition professionals. ADA is committed to improving the nation’s health and advancing the profession of dietetics through research, education and advocacy.

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