Adrienne Clark

Adrienne Clark
Adrienne Clark poses with the poster that won her second place at a recent meeting of the Virginia Dietetic Association held at the Inn at Virginia Tech.

Virginia Dietetic Association recognizes Clark for research project

 

'Eat healthier, drink water, and exercise every day!' In today's society, we are often confronted with these sorts of messages, but rarely do we stop to examine the research driving the advice.

Adrienne Clark, an undergraduate student working with Brenda Davy, associate professor of Human Nutrition, Foods and Exercise, recently found that older, overweight adults will lose more weight and reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes if they drink two cups of water before every meal and eat a low calorie diet.

The original research project, conducted by former PhD student Liz Dennis, lasted 12 weeks and involved splitting a sample of overweight adults between 55 and 75 years old into two groups. Participants in one group were instructed to drink two glasses of water (16 oz.) before every meal while on a low calorie diet. The other group did not consume two glasses of water, but was on a low calorie diet. The group that consumed the extra water lost an average of 7 kg, whereas participants in the control group lost an average of only 1 kg.

"We found that increasing water consumption on a low calorie diet resulted in better glucose tolerance," Clark said. "Thus, if a registered dietitian is ever counseling someone in this population he or she can advise them to drink two glasses of water per day before each meal to improve glucose tolerance which may then decrease the likelihood of developing diabetes."

Clark's poster took second place among 26 contestants at the 83rd annual Virginia Dietetic Association meeting held in March at the Inn at Virginia Tech, in which students from all over Virginia submitted research posters.

Through her work with Davy, Clark is also involved in the Resist Diabetes Project, led by Davy and Richard Winett, professor of psychology at Virginia Tech. The interdisciplinary research project examines how resistance training influences blood glucose levels and other diabetes markers in older, pre-diabetic adults. Davy's students are responsible for evaluating physical changes and characteristics in the participants such as glucose, body mass index, and weight changes, while Winett's students look at differences in the nutrition trainer's approach, and how that influences participant behavior.

According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, diabetes is a dangerous disease that can lead to skin infections, foot and leg amputations, vision problems, increased risk for heart attack, kidney damage, diabetic coma and diabetic ketoacidosis. It occurs when the hormone insulin is unable to break down the carbohydrate glucose in order to move it from the bloodstream to muscle, fat and liver cells where it can be stored or used for energy.

Diabetes can occur in three forms: Type 1, Type 2 and gestational. Type 1 diabetes is often diagnosed in young children and is a result of a lack of production of insulin; when these patients are given insulin daily, this usually treats the disease. Gestational diabetes occurs when a woman who is otherwise not diabetic experiences high blood sugar during pregnancy. Type 2 diabetes makes up most cases and is largely preventable.

 

Adrienne Clark 2
Adrienne Clark works in her office in Wallace Hall.