Throughout the U.S., obesity and diabetes rates continue to rise, especially in West Virginia. In fact, West Virginia’s obesity and diabetes rates exceed 40 percent of its population. Previous literature has demonstrated that childhood and early adult lifestyles, including poor dietary choices and reduced physical activity, predict future metabolic and cardiac issues. Therefore, we sought to determine the levels of risk factors for diabetes and cardiometabolic disease in college students in rural WV via a 4-year longitudinal study termed HERD2020 (Higher Education Reducing Diabetes). Freshmen were recruited at Marshall University and were stratified by BMI status to assess differences in physiological, molecular, and psychological status (BMI<25 kg/m2 vs. BMI≥25 kg/m2). Fifty three percent of the students were deemed overweight or obese (BMI≥25 kg/m2). Baseline analysis yielded no significant differences between BMI category and fasting glucose (p=.31); cholesterol (p=.473); triglycerides (p=.38); or HDL (p=.56). Strikingly, students with a BMI≥25 kg/m2 recorded fasting insulin levels twice as high as students with a BMI<25 kg/m2, (.42 vs. .96ng/ml, p=.003). This data suggests overweight/obese students are in a state of insulin-resistance, placing them at greater risks for future cardiometabolic diseases. Lastly, we evaluated plasma bile acid levels due to their newfound interest as antidiabetic molecules. Of the four bile acids altered (urodeoxycholic acid (UDCA), hyocholic acid (HCA), glycochenodeoxycholic acid (GCDCA), and taurodeoxycholic acid (TDCA)), two were higher in overweight patients (UDCA and TDCA) while the other two bile acids were lower in overweight patients (HCA and GCDCA). Continual recruitment and analysis of this study will provide more insight into the strength of these associations following lifestyle intervention. Future strategies should consider these factors to encourage successful lifestyle modification in this population.


H. Cyphert: None. R. Powell: None.

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