Perception of and risk factors for type 2 diabetes among students attending an upstate New York college: A pilot study

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Diabetology and Metabolic Syndrome


Background: Detecting early type 2 diabetes (T2D) risk factors may reduce or prevent the development of the disease. We conducted a pilot study to generate preliminary data on the perception of T2D and further determined the prevalence of T2D risk factors among college students at an upstate New York campus. Methods: Metabolic profiles were available for 44 college students for cross-sectional analysis. The American Diabetes Association screening guidelines were used to determine risk factors, and perceived susceptibility, perceived seriousness, and self-efficacy were determined with the Health Belief Model's constructs. Sociodemographic and anthropometric data, nutrition knowledge, and metabolic profiles were obtained. Results: The most common T2D risk factors were lack of physical activity (61.4%), decreased high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-c, 56.8%), high fasting blood glucose (FBG, 45.5%), family history of T2D (43.2%), increased body mass index (BMI, 36.4%), and high blood pressure (15.9%). A high proportion (70%) of participants with detected impaired FBG perceived they were at low risk of developing T2D. Participants with a family history of T2D (mean rank = 24.2) perceived the seriousness of T2D at a similar level as those without family history (mean rank = 21.2), with no significant difference (U = 205, P = 0.430). Nearly 30% of students did not feel confident they could prevent the development of T2D. Pearson's correlations revealed direct relationships between perceived risk of T2D and BMI (r = 0.49, P = 0.001), fat mass percent (r = 0.51, P < 0.001), and waist circumference (r = 0.42, P = 0.005), and an inverse relationship was found with HDL-c (r = - 0.41, P = 0.005). The association of perceived risk of T2D with a family history of T2D revealed a trend toward significance (Chi-squared = 5.746, P = 0.057), and the association of perceived risk of T2D with physical activity was not significant (Chi-squared = 1.520, P = 0.468). The nutrition knowledge score was 74.32 ± 15.97 (recommended is > 75). However, knowledge scores regarding recommended intake of fruits, vegetables, high sodium foods, and whole grains to prevent T2D were only 36.36%, 34.09%, 47.73%, and 63.6%, respectively. Conclusions: The discordance between college students' perceived risk and prevalence of T2D risk factors warrants strategies to address misperceptions of T2D risk and improve lifestyle behaviors among this study sample.



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