OBJECTIVE - To compare a simple meal plan emphasizing healthy food choices with a traditional exchange-based meal plan in reducing HbA1c levels in urban African Americans with type 2 diabetes. RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS - A total of 648 patients with type 2 diabetes were randomized to receive instruction in either a healthy food choices meal plan (HFC) or an exchange-based meal plan (EXCH) to compare the impact on glycemic control, weight loss, serum lipids, and blood pressure at 6 months of follow-up. Dietary practices were assessed with food frequency questionnaires. RESULTS - At presentation, the HFC and EXCH groups were comparable in age (52 years), sex (65% women), weight (94 kg), BMI (33.5), duration of diabetes (4.8 years), fasting plasma glucose (10.5 mmol/l), and HbA1c (9.4%). Improvements in glycemic control over 6 months were significant (P < 0.0001) but similar in both groups: HbA1c decreased from 9.7 to 7.8% with the HFC and from 9.6 to 7.7% with the EXCH. Improvements in HDL cholesterol and triglycerides were comparable in both groups, whereas other lipids and blood pressure were not altered. The HFC and EXCH groups exhibited similar improvement in dietary practices with respect to intake of fats and sugar sweetened foods. Among obese patients, average weight change, the percentage of patients losing weight, and the distribution of weight lost were comparable with the two approaches. CONCLUSIONS - Medical nutrition therapy is effective in urban African Americans with type 2 diabetes. Either a meal plan emphasizing guidelines for healthy food choices or a low literacy exchange method is equally effective as a meal planning approach. Because the HFC meal plan may be easier to teach and easier for patients to understand, it may be preferable for low-literacy patient populations.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Internal Medicine
- Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
- Advanced and Specialized Nursing