Azize Nur Yildirim PhD Awardee

Ph.D. in Kinesiology

Supervisor: Dr. Mary Jung

Testing the efficacy of a community-based diabetes prevention program

Diabetes Mellitus is one of the most serious chronic diseases globally, and the number of people living with diabetes has tripled in the last three decades with a higher prevalence in low- and middle-income countries. If not properly managed, diabetes could lead to serious damage to the cardiovascular system, eyes, kidneys, and nerves over time with significant cost implications.

The most common type, Type 2 Diabetes, could be preventable through lifestyle changes. Adopting a healthy lifestyle including a healthy diet and regular exercise has been proven to reduce Type 2 diabetes risk in people with prediabetes.

Small Steps for Big Changes, a diabetes prevention program targeting the promotion of regular physical activity and a healthy diet, has shown significant success at reducing excess weight, improving diet quality, reducing HbA1c, and most crucially, maintaining these changes up to 12 months after completion of the program. This project aims to assess the effectiveness of the diabetes prevention program at a broad scale by focusing on understanding the fundamental difficulties of lifestyle changes from the participant’s point of view. More specifically, which behavioral dietary changes are more challenging and which ones are easier, and what underlying causes make the dietary behavior changes more difficult to follow will be analyzed. Secondly, there has been a gap in dietary guidelines in terms of cultural foods, nutritional practices, which might be difficult to follow for people from different ethnic origins. Therefore, the role of diverse food cultures, routines, and affordability will be explored in individuals with prediabetes of diverse ethnic backgrounds in this project.

To the Stober Foundation

This project will help us to understand how effective Small Steps for Big Changes diabetes prevention program is and how we could increase adherence in the long term by focusing on the behavioural root causes.