Palo Alto Medical Foundation Newsroom

Bollywood Dance Benefits to be Assessed in Pilot Research Program

Researchers at the Palo Alto Medical Foundation Research Institute (PAMFRI) are exploring a new and creative way to manage Type 2 diabetes in South Asian immigrants. For the first time, Bollywood dance – a high-energy, cinematic dance style native to India –will be studied for its effectiveness in managing diabetes. 

In comparison to all other racial and ethnic groups, South Asians in the United States have one of the highest rates of type 2 diabetes. For this group, encouraging lifestyle changes, such as increasing exercise and making healthier eating choices, are an essential part of diabetes care.   


Amlu Natesan, a UC Berkeley-UCSF Joint Medical Program student, has partnered with PAMFRI’s Latha Palaniappan, M.D., M.S. and her research team and the India Community Center (ICC) to address this issue. The Culturally Relevant Exercise for Type 2 Diabetes (CURE-D) study is piloting an innovative Bollywood exercise program in an effort to motivate and engage South Asian women in exercise.  

“Culturally tailored programs may help increase exercise in minority populations,” said Dr. Palaniappan, associate investigator at PAMFRI and principal investigator for this study. “The CURE-D study is a unique opportunity to assess Bollywood dance as exercise and to improve the care of diabetes in a minority population.”

The dance intervention has been well received by the first cohort of patients.  Participants have been extremely engaged in the program and have highlighted positive aspects of the including the energy of the ICC instructor Shelly Rojas, the vibrant music, and the sense of community among the diabetic, South Asian participants.

One CURE-D participant said, “It is fun dancing and exercising to music that we know. I also liked meeting other women who were similar to me. CURE-D has given me the motivation to continue exercising and take care of my health.”

The CURE-D study has helped demonstrate that culturally tailored programs can engage and increase exercise among South Asian women.  Researchers are currently analyzing the diabetes outcomes measurements and are looking forward to using these results to develop future tailored interventions for diverse patient populations.

 More information is available online.