Document Type


Publication Date



Jayne Byrne, Nutrition


More than one out of ten people of Mexican descent has diabetes, which is twice the rate of the general population. People of Latino descent score less on health eating questionnaires and report less physical activity per week than people of non-Hispanic descent. Poor nutrition and exercise habits can contribute to elevated blood glucose and undesirable lipid profiles, leading to increased risk for type 2 diabetes mellitus. The Mexican Consulate of St. Paul offers a course for recent Latino immigrants to encourage healthy diet and lifestyle behaviors to lower the risk of developing diabetes. Purpose: To assess if nutrition education and pedometer use improve weight, body composition, blood glucose, and lipid profile in recent Latino immigrants to lower risk for type 2 diabetes. Methods: This study was approved by the Institutional Review Board at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University and informed consents were signed in Spanish. Fourteen Latino immigrants (n = three males, eleven females) agreed to participate and nine completed the study (n= one male, eight females). Participants were recruited from a class called, “I CAN prevent diabetes.” A survey designed to measure diabetes knowledge, nutrition habits, and activity levels was given to class participants on the first and the last day of the class. Study participants received pedometers to track their activity levels and participated in nutrition education once a week for six weeks. Fasting blood glucose level, lipid profile, and weight were measured for each individual before and after the study to determine the effect of pedometer use and nutrition education. Paired t-tests and a one-way ANOVA were used for statistical analysis. Results: Nutrition education and pedometer use resulted in significant improvements in fasting blood glucose levels (p = 0.03). Total cholesterol and LDL cholesterol improved marginally, but not significantly (p = 0.192 and 0.065, respectively). HDL cholesterol decreased over the course of the study (p = 0.001). Activity levels increased gradually the first three weeks then declined the fourth and final week. Weight decreased marginally but not significantly (p = 0.60). In the post study survey regarding diet, 66% participants reported decreasing their serving size, 55% reported increasing vegetable intake, 66% reported eating fewer tortillas, 55% reported drinking more water, and 44% reported eating less sweets and desserts. Conclusions: Nutrition education and pedometer use is effective at improving dietary and activity habits in the selected Latino population. Contact with participants was limited and behavior change takes time. Positive results were shown, but a longer period and a greater number of participants would be necessary to obtain statistically significant results and sustained habits.