Health & Science

Researchers Say Where You Live Can Affect Risk Of Diabetes

Researchers at the University of Texas School Of Public Health say residents in certain parts of Houston are more vulnerable.

Researchers at the University of Texas School Of Public Health say residents in certain parts of Houston are more vulnerable to getting diabetes. 

The research is part of a project called Cities Changing Diabetes. Stephen Linder is a professor at the University of Texas School of Public Health. His team interviewed hundreds of residents across Greater Houston on their health habits and lifestyle.

“We wanted to try and understand social and cultural factors that would create  vulnerability to diabetes,” Linder says.

Houston is one of five cities worldwide to participate in the research project. Linder says they focused on rapidly growing urban areas because they tend to have higher instances of the disease. Last year, researchers used data from the 2010 Health of Houston survey to map out which neighborhoods had the highest rates of diabetes. At the top of that list was the Fifth Ward.

This year, researchers looked for people who didn’t have the disease, but shared some of the same risk factors with the diabetic population. The idea was that those groups were more vulnerable developing the disease.

“We were able to identify concentrations of people who had those characteristics in three different sections of the city,” Linder says. “One was Greater Heights, the second was Settegast in east Houston, and the third was Atascocita.”

Linder says researchers were surprised to learn that the risk of diabetes transcends economic lines. They found that some young professionals increased their risk because they were too busy for diet and exercise. Houston Health Department Director Stephen Williams says the city is trying to make a healthy lifestyle as accessible as possible. He cites White Oak Bayou, where he’s seen lots of residents walking and cycling.

“There’s been an effort to increase accessibility of the bike trails,” Williams says.

Williams says combating the disease will require a combined effort from researchers and public health officials. The full report is expected to be released early next year.

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Tomeka Weatherspoon

Tomeka Weatherspoon

Senior Producer

Tomeka Weatherspoon is an Emmy-award winning producer. She produces segments, the weekly television program Arts InSight, the short film showcase The Territory and a forthcoming digital series on innovation. Originally from the Midwest, Tomeka studied convergence journalism from the world’s first journalism school at the University of Missouri. She has...

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