In focus groups with African American adults, the UC Health Promotion Workgroup found that food preferences, family pressure and lack of social support were most often perceived as obstacles to improving dietary habits in order to prevent diabetes. Obesity is a major risk factor for type 2 diabetes, and the rate is significantly higher among blacks (as well as Latinos and Native Americans) than whites. However, in a peer-reviewed research article published in the July-August 2002 issue of California Agriculture, UC scientists found that African American focus group participants believed poor dietary patterns, rather than body weight itself, are the most important factor in the high diabetes rate.
Many focus groups participants felt that they were not receiving enough information about diabetes prevention from health care providers. They recommended that education be delivered via community-based channels such as health providers and churches, and that it be tailored to specific cultural needs of the African American community. The UC Health Promotion Workgroup is now developing a multichannel outreach campaign to African Americans, which will include cooking classes, small-group discussions and targeted visual messages.