Diabetes Watch

NOVEMBER 01, 2008

Low Blood Sugar Does Not Impair Cognitive Function

A study of 175 teenagers with type 1 diabetes found that patients who work to keep their glucose levels under tight control may have more episodes of too-low blood sugar, but the outcome has no lasting effects on cognitive function. The participants, aged 13 to 19, were enrolled in the Diabetes Control and Complications Trial. The teenagers underwent comprehensive cognitive tests when they were 29 and 41 years old. The findings showed that 51 of the 82 participants assigned to intensive diabetes therapy reported a total of 200 episodes of coma or seizure related to hypoglycemia. Of the conventional treatment group, 94 similar episodes were reported by 36 of 93 patients. "Neither original treatment assignment nor cumulative number of hypoglycemic events influenced performance in any cognitive domain," wrote the researchers in Diabetes Care (October 2008).

Low BMD Troublesome in Diabetic Women

A study, reported in Diabetes Care (September 2008), confirmed that young women with type 1 diabetes have lower bone mineral densities (BMDs), compared with women without the disease.

The researchers previously reported that young women with type 1 diabetes have a lower BMD, compared with their counterparts of the same age, but without diabetes. The researchers have now completed a 2-year follow-up study of these women to determine if BMD differences continue over time. The study included 63 women with the disease and 85 participants in the control group.

After taking into account age, body mass index, and oral contraceptive use, BMD still remained lower in the diabetes group, compared with the control group after 2 years. The patients with diabetes who were younger than 20 years old also had lower BMD values, compared with the control group. The differences were not statistically significant.

Eat Your Greens

Individuals can lower their risk of diabetes by eating a diet with plenty of whole grains, fruits, vegetables (particularly leafy greens), and low-fat dairy. The findings underscore the importance of the whole diet—rather than focusing on certain foods or food groups that might be beneficial.

The researchers based the findings on 5011 adults participating in a long-term heart-health study. The study included white, black, Hispanic, and Chinese-American men and women aged 45 to 84. The results showed that participants whose diets were highest in whole grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and low-fat dairy were 15% less prone to develop type 2 diabetes over 5 years, compared with the participants who ate the lowest amounts. The study was reported in Diabetes Care (September 2008).

F A S T   F A C T: More than 9 million women have diabetes.

Intensive Diabetes Program Proves Beneficial

A weight-management program may help patients with type 2 diabetes lose weight and keep it off, finds a new study reported recently in Obesity Management.

The 62 patients who participated in the 12-week Why WAIT (Weight Achievement and Intensive Treatment) program kept their blood glucose under better control, reduced use of the diabetes medications and insulin, and reduced their cholesterol levels. After the program, weight loss averaged 23.5 lb, and a year later, the weight loss was 18.2 lb. For the participants taking short-acting insulin, 21% were able to quit, whereas the rest taking insulin therapy cut their dosage by more than half. Almost two-thirds of participants taking diabetes drugs, which are associated with weight gain, stopped taking them, whereas the rest of the patients lowered their dosage significantly.

Exercise Trims Fatty Liver in Diabetes Patients

A new study suggests that regular exercise not only helps overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes slim down and become more physically fit, it also trims harmful fat stores from in and around the liver. It is not uncommon for overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes to have fatty livers.

For the study, 77 adults with the disease were assigned to supervised exercise or no exercise for 6 months. The group rode a bicycle, ran on a treadmill, or walked briskly for 45 minutes 3 times a week. In addition, they lifted free weights for 20 minutes 3 times a week.

The control group avoided any formal aerobic fitness or gym classes.

Presenting the findings at the recent annual meeting of the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation, the researchers reported that the exercise group had 40% less levels of liver fat, compared with nonchanging levels in the control group.