An Exercise Intervention for South Asian Mothers with Risk Factors for Diabetes

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Abstract

South Asians (Indians, Pakistanis, Bangladeshis, Sri Lankans, Nepalis, and Bhutanese) in the United States have a very high prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM). This pilot study evaluated a culturally tailored exercise intervention among South Asian immigrant mothers with DM risk factors. Through an academic–community partnership, South Asian women with risk factors for DM and who had at least one child between 6 and 14 yr were enrolled into this single-arm study. The intervention for the mothers included 16 wk of twice weekly exercise classes, self-monitoring with activity trackers, goal setting, and classes on healthy eating. Based on prior community-based participatory research, children were offered exercise classes during the mothers' classes. The primary efficacy outcomes were change in mothers' moderate/vigorous physical activity and body weight pre- and postintervention (16 wk). Program adherence, clinical, and psychosocial outcomes were measured. A qualitative process evaluation was conducted to understand participant perspectives. Participants' (n = 30) average age was 40 yr (SD, 5), 57% had a high school education or less, and all were overweight/obese. At baseline, women were not meeting the recommended physical activity guidelines. Overall, participants attended 75% of exercise classes. Compared with baseline, participants' weight decreased by 3.2 lb (95% confidence interval, −5.5 to −1.0) postintervention. Among women who attended at least 80% of classes (n = 17), weight change was −4.8 lb (95% confidence interval, −7.7 to −1.9). Change in accelerometer-measured physical activity was not significant; however, exercise-related confidence increased from baseline (P < 0.01). Women described multiple physical and psychosocial benefits from the intervention. In conclusion, this pilot study suggests that a culturally tailored exercise intervention that included exercise classes for children was feasible and had physical and psychosocial benefits in South Asian mothers with risk factors for DM.

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