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ORLANDO (Reuters Health) - A culturally sensitive diabetes education program seems to be helping patients of south Asian origin living in New York.Dr. Grishma Parikh of Beth Israel Medical Center in New York City presented the initial results of the pilot program this week at the American Diabetes Association's annual meeting. "Many studies have suggested that South Asians have a higher prevalence of diabetes and that this higher prevalence is at a lower (body weight) even after adjusting for other demographic factors," Parikh noted. Furthermore, different Asian populations have varying risks of diabetes, she said. For example, data from the New York Department of Health and Mental Hygiene suggest the prevalence of diabetes is three times higher in adults born in south Asia versus east Asia. In the New York City borough of Queens, eight primary care physicians of South Asian origin who serve a large South Asian community established a program to facilitate diabetes care and education. A South Asian certified diabetes educator administers the diabetes education curriculum. Specially designed culturally competent diabetes education material is available in several South Asian languages. The study population included 80 individuals: immigrants from Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Bhutan, Nepal, and the Maldives as well as individuals who trace their ancestry of origin to these countries. They received formal culturally sensitive diabetes education in one-to-one sessions, with follow-up sessions every 2 to 4 weeks. A control group of patients did not receive formal diabetes education.Preliminary data at three months showed significant decreases in total cholesterol, "bad" LDL cholesterol and "good" HDL cholesterol levels in the education group, but not in the control group. There was also a trend toward improved blood sugar control in the education group. Parikh and her colleagues say that while the follow-up at this point is short, the results suggest that a culturally sensitive program for South Asian diabetics has the potential to improve outcomes.