Developing and Piloting the Journey to Native Youth Health Program in Northern Plains Indian Communities

Blakely Brown, Curtis Noonan, Kari jo Harris, Martin Parker, Steven Gaskill, Christiana Ricci, Georgia Cobbs, Shannon Gress

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose The purpose of this study was to develop a lifestyle change program for Native American youth by modifying the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) and assess implementation indicators and short term behavioral and physiological outcomes of the intervention among a small pilot sample. Community members and project staff modified the original DPP to be developmentally and culturally appropriate for youth targeting healthy weight maintenance, lowering fat intake, and increasing physical activity. Modifications included incorporating cultural aspects and delivering the program in small groups led by community members. Sixty-four Native American youth, aged 10-14 years old were recruited from 2 Montana Indian reservations to participate in the project, titled “Journey to Native Youth Health.” Participants were randomized to the Journey DPP or a health-oriented comparison condition. Pretest and posttest measures included body mass index (BMI), dietary intake, physical activity (PA), and nutrition knowledge, attitudes and beliefs (KAB). The target number of participants was recruited and 84% completed the program and final measures. Changes favoring the Journey DPP group were observed on measures of PA, KAB, and kilocalories from fat consumed. As expected given the short (3-month) duration of treatment, there was no overall effect on BMI at end of treatment. Among youth who were overweight or obese at baseline, however, the Journey DPP had lower BMI growth. Results suggest the Journey DPP is feasible to implement and has the potential to impact behaviors and weight gain associated with risk for type-2 diabetes in Native American youth.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)109-118
Number of pages10
JournalThe Diabetes Educator
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2013


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