Reducing risk of type 2 diabetes among South Asian immigrants
South Asian immigrants have an especially high risk of type 2 diabetes and coronary heart disease. Rates of overweight/obesity are far above those found in the general Norwegian population (Kumar et al 2006).
Furthermore, the communication between ethnic minority patients and health personnel is challenging (Fagerli et al 2005); health personnel often feel poorly equipped to meet these groups in an adequate way, due to cultural differences in views of health and disease and insufficient knowledge of their food habits.
A culturally adapted intervention study was developed. Data from the intervention study (Johansen et al 2010) showed that it was possible to revert the negative trends with regard to health risk. After the intervention, changes had occurred both in perceptions, motivation, diet, weight, and blood glucose levels. The intervention model is now the basis for larger efforts of health promotion among immigrant groups.
Promoting fruit and vegetables among school children
Our research is highly relevant for public health policy formulation, and several of our projects have as a specific goal to provide guidance to policy makers.
An example is our 10-year research program to evaluate the effects of school fruit programs in Norway and Europe (Bere et al 2010, te Velde et al 2008). Results from these studies demonstrated that parental payment reduced both school-level and child-level enrollment into the program, and that it served to increase the difference in children’s fruit consumption based on their family socio-economic status.
As a result, the Norwegian school fruit program was changed from a paid subscription program to a program with no parental payment for junior high school students and for students attending combined elementary and junior high schools.
Furthermore, data from these studies provided important input for the planning of similar school fruit programs both in the EU and the US.