Obesity is rising dramatically in young people, and with it the incidence of type 2 diabetes in young people is increasing. This trend is especially pronounced in minority populations, including African Americans and Hispanics. Healthy nutrition and exercise have been shown to prevent or delay the onset of type 2 diabetes in adults. Translating these findings to effectively address populations of minority youth will involve multi-disciplinary challenges; however, if we do not implement preventive measures, we face the specter of rising premature morbidity and mortality among the minority groups at highest risk for early type 2 diabetes. Similarly, outcomes for minority youth with established diabetes are poor, reflecting a complex interaction between medical and social factors. Analysis of current disparities can help us target secondary prevention efforts to decrease excess morbidity and mortality. Dr. Burnet is an internist and a pediatrician. She wants to build upon her clinical experience and develop the ability to decrease disparities in diabetes outcomes for African-American youth in Chicago. Dr. Burnet will need additional training and mentoring as she develops the ability to conduct research in this area. At the end of five years, she will have gained that additional training, participated in population-based studies analyzing outcomes for diabetic youth in Chicago, and implemented a risk-reduction program for African- American youth at high risk for diabetes. Programs to modify nutrition and lifestyle habits in youth have been shown to work best when they involve children and parents together. Interventions need to be culturally and age appropriate. Dr. Burnet's main research project will be a community-based, family oriented intensive nutrition and exercise intervention designed to decrease risk of type 2 diabetes in African-American youth.
Her aim i s to provide a creative, cost-effective program which can be replicated in varied settings, and which builds on prior work and the extensive resources available for diabetes research through the University of Chicago. Through this career development award, Dr. Burnet expects to become established as an independent researcher and a leader in the effort to decrease racial disparities in diabetes outcomes.