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ANCHORAGE - Health officials concerned with high rates of diabetes in the Bristol Bay region are sending bicycles to area children in hopes of reducing their risk.
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The Bristol Bay Area Health Corp. plans to ship 735 Trek bikes to Dillingham and 34 villages, said Lois Schumacher, the diabetes program coordinator.
The $150,000 program is financed by a federal grant for fighting diabetes among American Indians and Alaska Natives.
In a region with 8,000 residents, there will be about one bike for every 11 people. Some already have arrived in Goodnews Bay, west of Dillingham. Children in other communities should get bikes sometime this month.
Kids need to get outside and shed weight to reduce their risk of getting diabetes as adults, Schumacher said. Too many watch TV or hitch rides on four-wheelers to get around. About half the kids in the region are overweight, she said.
"We want to get them moving," she said.
Anyone in 12th grade or younger who does not have a working bike is eligible, Schumacher said. Teens will receive 21-speed bikes with shocks. Younger kids will get single-speed bikes.