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An investigation of dietary and physical activity risk factors for type 2 diabetes among Alberta youth Open Access


Other title
Type 2 Diabetes
Physical Activity
Type of item
Degree grantor
University of Alberta
Author or creator
Forbes, Laura
Supervisor and department
McCargar, Linda (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Examining committee member and department
Kim Raine (Centre for Health Promotion Studies)
Rhonda Bell (Agricultural, Food and Nutritional Science)
Thomas Wolever (Nutritional Sciences)
Ronald Plotnikoff (Physical Education & Recreation)
Department of Agricultural, Food, and Nutritional Science

Date accepted
Graduation date
Doctor of Philosophy
Degree level
Due to the increase in type 2 diabetes in the child and adolescent population, examining the lifestyle habits of youth has become important. The purpose of this research was to examine the presence of dietary and physical activity risk factors for type 2 diabetes among youth in Alberta and to evaluate their relationship with insulin sensitivity. Lifestyle habits of Alberta youth with type 2 diabetes (n = 28), and age, sex and BMI matched controls (n = 28) were assessed by a chart review method. Those with diabetes had a higher intake of several nutrients (i.e. protein intake) and were less likely to be physically active. Dietary and physical activity risk factors for diabetes of a large sample of Alberta youth (n = 4981) were also assessed using the Web Survey of Physical Activity and Nutrition (Web-SPAN) and insulin sensitivity was measured in a sub-group (n = 318) using a C-13 glucose breath test. High Glycemic Index (GI) and Glycemic Load (GL) diets were common among Alberta adolescents and dietary patterns associated with dietary GI and GL were assessed. Dietary and physical activity risk factors for type 2 diabetes, including overweight and obesity, high GI, high GL, low fibre, low magnesium, low vegetable and fruit intake, high fat intake and low physical activity levels, were commonly reported among Alberta teens; with some risk factors, such as low fibre intake and high GI being reported by over half of all participants. Youth reported having an average of 3 diabetes risk factors. Boys reported more risk factors than girls, older students reported more risk factors than younger students and students with a higher BMI reported more risk factors than students with a lower BMI. Age, sex, BMI and dietary GI were associated with Insulin Sensitivity Score as measured by a C-13 glucose breath test. In summary, this research has shown that the dietary and physical activity habits of Alberta adolescents are sub-optimal for type 2 diabetes prevention and the relationship between diabetes risk factors and insulin sensitivity in this group suggests that these behaviours are related to early changes in carbohydrate metabolism.
Permission is hereby granted to the University of Alberta Libraries to reproduce single copies of this thesis and to lend or sell such copies for private, scholarly or scientific research purposes only. Where the thesis is converted to, or otherwise made available in digital form, the University of Alberta will advise potential users of the thesis of these terms. The author reserves all other publication and other rights in association with the copyright in the thesis and, except as herein before provided, neither the thesis nor any substantial portion thereof may be printed or otherwise reproduced in any material form whatsoever without the author's prior written permission.
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