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$6 million grant to help youth fight diabetes

(Sept. 10, 2004) – A $6 million grant from the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) is bringing the Stand Up! clinical trial to San Antonio, researchers and school officials announced Sept. 8.

The Alamo City is one of seven sites nationwide for the Stand Up! study, which seeks to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes in middle school youth.

Stand Up! will be conducted in the San Antonio Independent School District (SAISD) by researchers from the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio, UTSA, and the Social and Health Research Center of San Antonio. The Texas Diabetes Institute will serve as the referral center for all youth diagnosed with the disease.

"Type 2 diabetes, a metabolic disease once seen almost exclusively in adults, now threatens the health of many of our young people," said Roberto P. Trevino, M.D., co-principal investigator from the Social and Health Research Center.

"A recent study of middle school children revealed that 40 percent had abnormal blood sugar readings. Type 2 diabetes in children has been directly linked to poor diet and lack of fitness and is a warning shot across the bow for later life, when type 2 diabetes may cause blindness, kidney disease and heart disease. That's why children and schools are the focus of today's exciting national announcement."

Daniel Hale, M.D., professor and chief of pediatric endocrinology and diabetes at the Health Science Center and Stand Up! co-principal investigator, said, "It is becoming increasingly apparent that we need to control glucose levels in children as early as possible, especially those from families where diabetes is present. Diabetes and its complications are best prevented, rather than treated much later down the line when there is not as much we can do."

Stand Up! began in August at the first SAISD test site, Rogers Middle School on the Southeast Side. The program will be launched at eight other SAISD middle schools that will be compared to eight control schools.

"Dr. Roberto Trevino brought a similar program to San Antonio ISD in 1996 because he recognized the increasing risk of this disease facing our community, especially children," said SAISD Superintendent Ruben D. Olivarez.

"Since then, the program has worked with thousands of students in our school district and made a difference in the lives of many. Today, with the implementation of Stand Up!, Dr. Trevino and his partners will continue to combat diabetes among teen-agers. SAISD understands the consequences of diabetes. Together with our physical education and health program, and our food services and nutrition department, SAISD is committed to making Stand Up! work and bringing positive changes to our children."

Stand Up! aims to reach a large number of at-risk youth at school -- where they can check out how changes in the foods they eat and the amount of exercise they get can help them feel better. Physical activity levels in physical education classes will be increased and time spent sitting or standing will be decreased.

Some of the foods and drinks served or available in the cafeteria and vending machines will be changed. Additional activities will teach students why and how to make better food choices and will encourage them to get at least a half hour of physical activity after school hours.

Pilot projects such as the one at Rogers will be conducted this year and in 2005, and the main Stand Up! trial in all 16 schools is expected to launch in the fall of 2006. Stand Up! will include a social marketing campaign to encourage students to join the bandwagon of physical education, good nutrition and other positive health behaviors.

Arthur Hernandez, UTSA professor and associate dean in the College of Education and Human Development, was instrumental in developing the social marketing component.

"Implementing activities such as Stand Up! in schools is an important tool in changing related behaviors and attitudes in our youth," Hernandez said. "I believe that what children ultimately take from this program will contribute to their lifelong well-being."

The pilot studies at Rogers and other campuses will involve 260 students, and the main study will enroll 4,160 students, Trevino said.

For more information, contact Stephanie Mota at 210-458-4550.

--Stephanie Mota

University Communications
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