In 2010, about 25.8 million Americans had diabetes, and 27% of those cases were undiagnosed. Type 2 diabetes (T2D) accounts for about 90-95% of diabetes cases;diabetes prevention is a national health objective. T2D disproportionately affects African-Americans (AAs) and Hispanics, compared with non-Hispanic whites. In Texas, 2009 data revealed that 14.4% of AAs had T2D, compared with 9.7% of Hispanics and 8% of Whites. Family history, overweight, and ethnicity are T2D risk factors. Lifestyle modification, including healthy eating, physical activity, and modest weight loss, can prevent T2D. The transition from adolescence to young adulthood can be a time of increased stress, and is associated with increased health risk. Poor diet, obesity and inactivity increase during this time period, particularly among AAs. For those AA students with family history of T2D, this may contribute to the increasing prevalence of T2D diagnosed among younger populations. In 2010, 24% of new T2D cases were in adults 20-39 years of age and 55% were in adults ages 40-59 years. There are over 100 Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCUs) in the U.S. While HBCUs have significantly contributed to the educational progress of millions of AA students, there is a lack of empirically- driven descriptive and intervention research in health promotion focused on the HBCU populations. Efforts to identify and mitigate health risk behaviors in these students may help in addressing health disparities among AAs. Therefore, we are submitting this R21 application in response to PAR-10-137, addressing Research Area 3: chronic disease prevention. We will assess the social networks of AA students attending a HBCU, with and without T2D risk, and examine the flow of health related behaviors, attitudes, support, and information across the social networks of students. Our goal is to identify whether there are protective mechanisms within these social networks that might help to explain the differences between those students with T2D risk who report lifestyle behaviors that increase risk for early onset T2D, versus those students with T2D risk who practice lifestyle behaviors protective of T2D. We will also investigate whether a social network communication channel at an HBCU is an effective way to promote chronic disease prevention practices and reduce future risk. This proposed study has tremendous public health significance and is the first step in a program of research to develop and test effective social network-based interventions on HBCU campuses to reduce health disparities among this group.
Historically Black Colleges or Universities (HBCU) have significantly contributed to the educational progress of millions of African-American (AA) students. There is lack of health promotion research on HBCU populations who are at a higher risk of diabetes and other chronic diseases. Thus, we will assess the social networks of AA students attending a HBCU, and examine the flow of health-related behaviors, attitudes, support, and information across their social networks which may help in addressing health disparities among AAs, and investigate whether prevention programs can be disseminated via the college to student social networks.