Risk factors for type 2 diabetes in pre-teens of Mexican descent

August 13, 2013

Pre-teens of Mexican descent seem to be particularly prone to obesity and diabetes. To better care for this population, researchers at the UNT Health Science Center want to know if risk factors for type 2 diabetes in pre-teens of Mexican descent differ between those living in Mexico and those in North Texas.

With that in mind, UNTHSC has teamed up with the Universidad Autónoma del Estado de México (UAEM) to evaluate psychosocial, familial and environmental factors in children aged 10 to 14 who are of Mexican descent. Data gathered from kids in North Texas will be compared with data collected from kids in Toluca, Mexico.

Both the child and parent or guardian must agree to participate in the study, which includes a two-hour evaluation session during which researchers collect blood pressure, height, weight, waist and hip circumference, body mass indices, glucose levels and a lipid profile. Researchers also collect information about family structure, smoking status, body changes, diet and indications of depression, factors which often accompany obesity in adults. A quick neck inspection is used to check for Acanthosis Nigricans, a dark, velvety discoloration of the skin associated with obesity and type 2 diabetes.

"We hope to identify differences between children of Mexican descent in the U.S. and children in Mexico," explained Kim Fulda, DrPH, Principal Investigator at the Fort Worth location, Associate Director of the Primary Care Research Center, who is working closely with Roxana Valdés-Ramos, DSc, from the UAEM in Toluca.

Evaluations of 150 young people in Mexico have been completed. The team in Fort Worth is finishing up evaluations of young Mexican American volunteers, then the data will be compared.

"We hope to discover any protective differences in either location," explained Dr. Valdés-Ramos. "Perhaps children of Mexican descent in the U.S. have different stressors or diets that protect them or make them more vulnerable to obesity and type 2 diabetes."

The partnership between UAEM and UNTHSC is one of three projects underway between the two health-related institutions, although UAEM has had a relationship with UNT in Denton for 20 years.

"This new relationship with UAEM is exciting and offers both institutions new opportunities for studying different populations, as well as sharing student and faculty learning experiences," said Thomas Yorio, PhD, UNTHSC Provost.

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