How to Handle Halloween for Children with Diabetes

It’s that time of year again: the leaves are falling, the temperatures are dropping, and all things scary and spooky are on store shelves. While pumpkin picking and catching a hay ride are (for all intents and purposes) “low carbohydrate” activities, trick-or-treating can be anything but. So, how do you handle Halloween with a young child with diabetes? Do you allow them to “be a kid” for an evening, and go all out on the chocolate and sugar spike? Or do you limit them to a few, portion-controlled treats, with a food scale nearby? While there’s no one right answer to this question, here are some helpful tips to make your Halloween a little less spooky this year.

Take the Focus Away from Food

This is helpful for all children, for all holidays. No holiday needs to be 100% about the food, especially for a child with diabetes. For Halloween specifically, focus on carving pumpkins, watching scary movies, dressing up in really elaborate Halloween costumes, and yes, if you and your child wish, some candy, too.

Noelle from California says, “Our kiddo is three so our main focus is on creating traditions that will be helpful for her later on with type 1. For parties, I create treats that aren’t food-related.”

Lila from New York City says, “We completely avoid the candy thing. Trick or treating isn’t a huge deal in our neighborhood, so this hasn’t been an issue yet.”

Kate, from Pennsylvania, says, “We go out a little, but limit the number of stops. After we get home, we go through our candy, keeping only what we really, really like. The rest, we give to the Switch Witch, and she brings the girls a little present in the morning as an exchange for giving her their candy.” There’s even a book you can buy that helps explain the magic of the Switch Witch.

Create Unique Traditions

Perhaps you have a spooky, scary dance party or movie night on Halloween, or the whole family dresses up in matching costumes to go walking around the neighborhood. Maybe you bob for apples or roast pumpkin seeds after carving, or let your child have a few friends sleepover. Creating unique family traditions that are inclusive will be beneficial not only for your child now, but will be helpful as they grow up with type 1 diabetes.

Be Wary About Restrictions

Be cognizant about putting too many restrictions on candy for your child. Children with diabetes are much more likely to develop an unhealthy relationship with food. If your child really wants to indulge, just make sure they’re carbohydrate counting appropriately, and let them enjoy themselves (within moderation, of course). Most of the time children intuitively eat anyway, and don’t actually end up eating that much candy.

Melissa, from Iowa, says, “We bring any candy home and carb count it ahead of time, and then put a post-it note on each piece, so our daughter can dose appropriately whenever she’s hungry or wants a treat.”

Plan Ahead

Like all things diabetes-related, it helps to plan ahead. Make sure your child eats dinner with some protein and fat before going trick-or-treating, so they’re not just eating sugar on an empty stomach, which can cause the roller coaster effect. Make sure you know where and how far they’ll be walking, or better yet, walk along with them. Have your child carry low snacks (they shouldn’t solely rely on candy that won’t have any nutrition facts or carbohydrate information on it), and make sure they’re drinking plenty of water. It’s helpful if your child also has fresh continuous glucose monitor (CGM) and insulin pump sites on, but not absolutely necessary.

Hannah says, “Planning ahead a learning to navigate holidays with type 1 diabetes is critical and so empowering once you find what works for you and your family.”

Don’t Stress the Small Stuff!

It’s important to remember that Halloween is only one night, and you shouldn’t stress the small stuff. Some parents of children with diabetes shy away from candy, while others let them indulge, and there is no one right answer. Do what works for you and your family, but don’t let the stress of one holiday ruin the evening for you and your child. Relax and let them have fun! They’ll be doing so much running around anyway that you’ll be glad they had the extra “low snacks” on them anyway.

Lija, from Minnesota, says, “We don’t do anything different for my type 1 and non-type 1, and it works out fine. We find that she tends to go low while out trick or treating, so she just eats and boluses a little while out; it isn’t actually a difficult holiday for us!”

The key is finding what works for you. There are no right or wrong answers. Here’s to a happy, spooky Halloween! Hopefully the candy (and subsequent blood sugars) are the least scary part.

How do you and your family handle Halloween in a household affected by diabetes? What tactics and strategies have helped you manage appropriately? Share your experience in the comment section below; we love hearing from our readers!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Former NFL Player with Type 1 Diabetes Shares His Story

Jake Byrne was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes as a teen, and he didn’t let his condition stop him from pursuing his dreams of playing professional football. He also wrote a book to inspire others with type 1 diabetes to pursue their dreams. We talked to Jake about his journey and the advice he would give to young people recently diagnosed. 

How old were you when you first became interested in football?

Since I was a little kid. My parents are from Wisconsin, and I grew up watching the Green Bay Packers every Sunday. I first started playing football in the 3rd grade.

When were you diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

I was diagnosed when I was a sophomore in high school; I was 15 years old.

How did your diagnosis affect the trajectory of your football career at the time?

The largest hurdle to overcome was how to manage a new disease with the physical and mental demands the game of football put on someone’s body.

Did you become discouraged about your future?

Yes, the most noticeable change was the sudden weight loss. I lost around 30 lbs. and had to figure out how to adjust to a completely new lifestyle living with T1D.

What worried you the most, and how did you move forward?

How to manage my blood sugar was my biggest worry. Stabilizing my blood sugar to be able to stay in a healthy range for a 2-3 hr. game or practice was such a challenge. There was just not a lot of information or people I knew that could provide helpful insight on how to manage in such an extreme environment. For the most part, it was trial and error that was my method of finding what worked for me.

What was your most memorable football experience?

I have a couple. I never thought I would make it as far as I did in my football career. I always wanted to make it to the NFL, but I set more short-term goals that seemed realistic at the time. The first was after I finally got in a good rhythm with my diabetes and football and was able to play well enough to earn my first scholarship offer from the University of Arkansas. This eventually led to several other offers, which lead to my decision to attend the University of Wisconsin. The second was my Junior year when we beat Ohio State (who was #1 in the country), which lead us to become Big10 Champions earning us an invitation to play in the rose bowl in Pasadena, CA. The third was when I finally got a shot to play in my first NFL game on Sunday for the Huston Texans.

What was the most challenging aspect for you in regard to playing football with type 1 diabetes?

Keeping my blood sugar in a safe range. Lows were always a struggle.

Tell us a little bit about your book. What prompted you to write it? What was the inspiration and motivation behind it?

The inspiration behind the book started when I first received a letter from a young kid who was struggling to convince his parents to let him play football, triggering the feelings around how lost I was when I was first diagnosed. I was looking for some hope and guidance on how to move forward. From that point, I wanted to find a way to share my story to help others that were going through a difficult time overcoming adversity.

*Editor’s note: Jake’s book, “First and Goal: What Football Taught Me About Never Giving Up”, can be purchased on Amazon.

Can you tell us more about how having type 1 diabetes affected your football career experiences and vice versa?

Playing football at a high level is a challenge in itself. Then diabetes adds a level of complexity and discipline on top of that no-one else has to deal with.

Did the training and commitment involved in playing the sport at such a high level translate to more optimal diabetes management?

Absolutely, the amount of physical activity involved in sports like football leaves very little room for error. You can’t take one second off with T1D.

What advice would you give to newly-diagnosed kids and teens who have professional sports aspirations?

Never let diabetes set your limitations. Control your diabetes; don’t let it control you. It all comes down to your willingness to be disciplined in having a proactive approach to their daily routine to match your lifestyle.

Where are you today, and how do you think type 1 diabetes affected your path, overall?

Diabetes taught me very quickly that I had to be very disciplined in everything I do; it ingrained a work ethic and a sense of responsibility that is now part of who I am. That mindset allowed me to chase my dreams to play in the NFL, transition into my career into robotics, and eventually led to an opportunity to work for Locus Robotics as the Director of Customer Success. T1D taught me that through my life that if you work hard and have a thought-out plan, you can accomplish anything you set out to do.

Thank you for taking the time to speak to us, Jake. Your story is sure to be an inspiration to many young athletes with type 1 diabetes. We wish you all the very best in all your future endeavors!

***

Are you a competitive athlete with type 1 diabetes? What challenges have you faced and what advice would you give?

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Rise of Childhood Obesity in the United States

September is National Childhood Obesity Month in the United States, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Currently, about 1 in 5 American children (19%) is obese, and the numbers are startlingly and steadily rising. Bringing awareness to this health crisis can help educate parents and caregivers about warning signs for childhood obesity, and how to prevent it for their children and loved ones.

Childhood Obesity is a Major Public Health Concern

It’s important to know that childhood obesity is not about vanity or looks. Childhood obesity is a serious public health issue that has serious and devastating consequences for children and families. Children who are obese have a body mass index (BMI) at or above the 95% percentile (a pediatrician can perform this measurement for you). Children experiencing obesity are at higher risk for other chronic health conditions, including asthma, sleep apnea, hypertension, type 2 diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and even many types of cancers. Additionally, children who are obese are more likely to be bullied in school, and can face mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation as they age.

Causes of Childhood Obesity

Childhood obesity can have many causes, most of which are behavioral in nature, although metabolism and genetics do play a strong role. Lack of physical activity and unhealthy eating patterns are some of the highest risk factors for developing obesity, as is a lack of sleep, and simply not having access to a safe place to exercise or the ability to buy healthy foods (living in a food desert, for example). Many social determinants of health play a role here. Children of lower socioeconomic status are at higher risk of developing obesity than children of higher socioeconomic status, who may have better access to parks and recreation and healthy foods.

Preventing Childhood Obesity at Home

There is a lot that family and friends can do to help to prevent obesity from affecting a child’s life.

  • Tracking a child’s weight and Body Mass Index (BMI) regularly can keep a child on track; if you see rapid weight gain, you can catch it more quickly and reach out to your doctor for a check-up.
  • Focusing meals on fresh fruits and vegetables, and eating foods in their most natural state prevents eating additional additives, preservatives and chemicals that won’t fill a child up, but are loaded with empty calories.
  • Make sure your child is active every day. Aim for 60 minutes of physical activity. This need not be a formal activity, like a soccer game. Walking the dog, helping to clean the house, and even walking around the shopping mall are all great forms of physical activity that gets a child moving and don’t cost any money.
  • Limit screen time. In 2019, the World Health Organization released new guidelines for the recommended amount of screen time by age, for children.
  • Make sure children are drinking water and not soda. About 40% of the calories consumed by 2-18 year olds comes in the form of these empty calories. Swapping soda out for water will save a ton of calories and will ensure that your child is filling up on wholesome, nutrient-dense calories instead.
  • Make sure your child has a healthy HbA1c. Keeping tight control on blood sugars and HbA1c can prevent overtreating lows and overeating, both of which can contribute to weight gain.
  • Eat healthy meals as a family. Children do what you model, not necessarily what you tell them to do. If you act as a role model with healthy meals, they will naturally follow.
  • Make sure your child is getting adequate sleep. When sleep patterns and circadian rhythms are off, children’s hormone levels become out of range, and they are more likely to overeat and not be physically active. They may also fall behind in school and suffer low self-confidence, resulting in overeating as a coping mechanism. Make sure your child is getting good sleep every night of the week.

Community and Societal Support

Preventing obesity may start at home, but it takes a village to raise a healthy child. Communities should provide safe and healthy playgrounds and parks accessible to all children, and local schools should provide free, clean, and safe drinking water and lunchroom cafeterias should provide balanced, healthy meals. Schools should also encourage physical activity, and provide robust physical education classes and electives for children and teens.

Additionally, your child’s health care provider should be conducting regular physical and mental health checks, to make sure your child is on track to enter adolescence and adulthood in a healthy mindset and at a healthy weight, especially if they are living with diabetes, which can make them more prone to disordered eating.

Together, with cooperation from parents, caregivers, schools, communities and engaged pediatricians and care teams, we can work to prevent childhood obesity and set the stage for healthy children and the future (healthy) adults we hope they will become.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

A Parent’s Concern: COVID-19 and the School Year

This content originally appeared on Beyond Type 1. Republished with permission.

By Eugenia Araiza/Mariana Gomez

COVID-19 has brought many challenges and struggles to our daily lives. From the beginning we have adopted new habits in order to adapt to this new normal and this new dynamic and way of life certainly includes our environment and our children.

In the case of children with diabetes, the school environment alone already entails interesting challenges that, although they can be solved through teamwork and diabetes education, are scenarios that require some preparation to face.

The new normal includes concerns the caregivers have about going back to school and, although we look forward to that day, we also analyze the risks that it could represent in a population that a lot of the literature considers “vulnerable”.

In our groups and communities in Latin America, we have a similar opinion and we are pleased to see that the community has gotten to work and has quickly become familiarized with #BigLittleChanges that will help slow the spread of the virus. We know as a fact that social distancing, among other things, is one of the key pillars, but… what will happen when school begins?

We approached members of the type 1 Diabetes Community from Spanish-speaking families to ask their opinion. This is what we found.

About Going Back to School in August

“August seems too soon for in-person classes, it honestly scares me!” Esther shared with us, who thinks the same as Francisco who added “in my opinion, I do not think it can be possible because we are at a very critical point in the pandemic.”

In countries like Mexico, the rules will depend on the school system (public or private) and even on the state and region. In some schools there will be three options for returning to school: in-person, online or hybrid methodology that involves separating the groups to avoid having several children in a classroom alternating the days of in-person and online education.

Viridiana, Zuri’s mother said, “As Zuri’s mother, who lives with type 1 diabetes, I still do not feel it is safe for her to go back to school and I think that many moms are going through the same thing, the uncertainty of not knowing what will happen in the upcoming school year.”

The British Society of Pediatric Endocrinology and Diabetes States:

  1. Clinically extremely vulnerable children are to remain shielded and not to return to school, even if their year group has.
  2. Clinically vulnerable children who are only under the care of primary care are overwhelmingly likely to benefit from returning to school when their year group does.
  3. Clinically vulnerable children, who are under secondary or specialist care for an underlying health condition are, on the balance of probabilities, more likely to benefit from returning to school when their year group does so. These families may need a conversation with their medical teams to balance the potential risks and any anxiety among family members.
  4. All other children should attend school when their year group returns.

The New Normal and School

Among concerned parents, there has been talk about three options for returning to school: in-person, online or hybrid methodology that involves separating the groups to avoid having several children in a classroom alternating the days of in-person and online education.

Marcela told us “we still have not heard anything about when school will begin, personally I am stressed out about my son returning to school and whether they will take the necessary measures to avoid infections, hopefully, some students will attend some days and others online to be incorporated gradually like some people are saying.”

Others like Cloe have been preparing a little ahead of time and have talked with the principals and those in charge of the schools to let them know the family’s concerns regarding their child’s diabetes, the care and risks that it would involve, to which the teacher responded “This is a situation in which many of us agree because the most important thing is the health of our little ones. The authorities have mentioned that we will be able to make exceptions when school starts. Do not worry, when the time comes, we can explore options, you have my full support.”

In Mexico, the Aprende en Casa program used five means for teaching, among them, free textbooks in digital and printed format, which include the basis of all the expected learning and programs disseminated in several digital outlets, including free-to-air and cable television channels, radio and printed and digital materials.

The Parents’ Conditions

When asked about the requirements they have as parents to send their children to school, Yahaira said “I do not have any because at this moment I think that if it is in-person, my child will not go to school” while Mónica said “I would require them to supervise the students so they have no contact with each other, and they should be very clear about social distance”.

Apparently, all this causes great uncertainty because of a lack of assertive communication in many of our countries by the educational authorities and, as Adriana says “I would like to know all the measures that would be taken when school starts, but so far there is nothing clear enough so that parents and also children and teenagers with diabetes can sit, think, and make clear decisions so they can all feel safe and calm.”

Gaby, like many other participants, told us that she would prefer a hybrid system since “personally, I think my daughter would be affected if she stays at home any longer, she is at an age in which she tends to get depressed, and to stay up late talking to friends she has not seen in months. Now she has to start at a new school, it would be good for her not to spend so much time at home and go back to school with the appropriate care.”

The Opinion of Children and Teenagers Living With Diabetes on Going Back to School

Fer tells us that she wants to return and that “she would always have to have her face mask on, carry hand sanitizer, she would not hug her friends and keep her distance”. Ian cannot wait to go back, and it is very difficult for Mónica, his mother, not to send him. The same happens with Damián who wants to go back to school and see his friends. However, Matteo knows for sure that he does not want to return.

Zuri, who is 10 years old, tells us “I am very afraid of catching it and having complications with my diabetes.” 11-year-old Pablo says: “I will not go back until there is a vaccine.” Mali, who is 13 years old, is the one who shows the most concern on the subject and says just the thought of being surrounded by children and teachers scares her.

The Official Positions

Sadly, up to the date this article was published, we have not found any information from school authorities or medical societies for our countries in Latin America.

However, on May 20th the Official Position of the Association of Children’s Diabetes Clinicians (ADC) was published, emphasizing the lack of evidence to suggest that children with diabetes are more vulnerable to get the virus than other children, and parents of children with diabetes are called upon to reinforce safety measures such as hand washing and social distancing.

At the beginning of the statement, it says children with diabetes can return to the school environment as long as protective measures are taken. According to the documents, parents should consider whether the children will be able to keep their distance from their classmates, and if someone at home has a greater risk of contracting the virus. In addition, there are other factors that should be considered. Are parents capable of providing quality education from home? Will this distancing have any negative consequences on their development and emotional well-being?

Here are some safety protocols that will be implemented in different countries that you may be able to discuss with your educational authorities if you are a caregiver to a child with diabetes

  • Placement of students by age group: students will attend school in groups or age groups.
  • Students will not interact with other students outside of their age group.
  • A temperature check will be conducted each day before students enter the premises.
  • All staff will wear face shields.
  • Students will have many opportunities to wash their hands daily.
  • Handwashing stations will be created around the premises.
  • Students will not share supplies and materials.
  • Students will be seated at a safe distance from each other.
  • Teachers will be provided with safe cleaning supplies for students to use throughout the day.

Some Conclusions

Viridiana García, Zuri’s mother, perhaps represented what many of us thought and could not put into words “I think that, at the moment, there is nothing more important than the health of our children, and if we weigh the health of our children against their education, their health seems more important. We should remember that nothing is forever, and these moments of crisis will sooner or later pass and we will have time to recover in all aspects.”

While all this goes through the minds of the parents, a question arises, how long are we going to be able to keep the children out of the new normal?

(We would like to thank Viridiana García, Zuri’s mother, for sharing the protocols of her school with us)

About the Authors

Eugenia Araiza Eugenia has a Degree in Nutrition specialized in Diabetes and she is a Diabetes Educator. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes 25 years ago, she is the creator of Healthy Diabetes. She really enjoys studying and helping others in managing their different types of diabetes. She loves studying, managing type 1 diabetes, and nutrition. She especially enjoys writing about the impact diabetes has in her life. She lives surrounded by the love of her family, Luis Felipe, who lives with LADA type diabetes and her teenage son, Indigo.

Mariana Gómez Mariana is a Psychologist and Diabetes Educator. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes in the summer of 1985. In 2008, Mariana started a blog where she shares her life experience and topics related to living with diabetes and emotional health with others. Mariana worked with the Mexican Diabetes Federation until 2012 and today she is Director of Emerging Markets for Beyond Type 1. She is the mother of a teenager.

For more information on what you can do to protect yourself and others, visit coronavirusdiabetes.org and share the #BigLittleChanges you are making.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Should My Child with Type 1 Diabetes Go Back to School During COVID-19?

As summer draws to a close, parents and families affected by type 1 diabetes have been plagued with the question of whether or not to send their children back to school during the time of COVID-19.

Earlier this summer, a report from the NHS was released showing that people with diabetes, especially type 1 diabetes, face significantly higher risk for both complications and death from COVID-19. This study sent shockwaves through the diabetes community, and has left many families with many unanswered questions. Should parents send their children to school and risk contracting the virus? Should families keep their children home, and attempt home-school? Is there a middle ground to help mitigate risk and viral transmission, while still enabling our children to learn well? What critical social and psychological developments would a child miss out on, should they stay out of school for a year, or two, or three? What complications would be prevented if they dodged the coronavirus (and the social ridicule of 7th grade) completely?

There is no national consensus: the President wants schools to reopen. Many colleges and universities are either going completely online, or attempting a sort of hybrid (half online, half in-person) schedule. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently changed its guidance, to better adhere to the Administration’s wishes. Throughout the United States, the issue of schools reopening has largely been left up to the school district to decide, and that can be based largely on city and state politics. The decision is further complicated for families with children with diabetes, because although a type 1 patient’s risk may be higher, it’s been previously noted that most children, should they contract COVID-19, have milder cases and many do not even show symptoms. Keeping a child with diabetes home this fall risks to further ostracize and isolate them. So, how can you make the best decision for this upcoming school year?

If anything, the United States has had the benefit of time throughout the pandemic. The origins of the virus came from Wuhan, China, and Americans watched the epidemic play out and spread throughout Asia and Europe from the comfort of their homes for most of the winter. The United States had nearly 3 months to fully prepare, and the same goes for schools reopening. Many schools throughout Asia and Europe have reopened (with safety precautions) with some success and no community spread. However, no country has had as many live and active case counts as the United States when trying to reopen schools.

Although the risk of returning to school is great, sometimes the social and psychological repercussions are greater: many children have reported an increase in anxiety and depression since the pandemic started; being trapped in homes with domestic violence and abuse wreak havoc on mental health and well-being, and many families living close to the poverty line rely on the daily, free breakfast and lunch programs to help feed their family throughout the school year. Shockingly, 114,000 students in the New York City public school system are homeless; they rely on the warmth and shelter of going to school every day to get by.

Photo credit: Adobe Stock

Many families do not have enough (or any) computers at home for remote schooling, and nearly 19 million Americans do not have high speed, broadband internet at home, making remote, teacher-led learning all but impossible. Additionally, having children at home all day often requires a parent to be home, too, and many essential jobs and low-wage workers do not have the option to work from home temporarily or indefinitely. Juggling child care and work has become a critical issue for parents navigating the effects of the pandemic on their families. Furthermore, children need to socialize with other kids their age, and learn to develop social networks for support. Taking that away can and will have lasting detrimental effects.

On the other hand, given the current state of affairs and the rate at which the virus is spreading throughout the United States, children with diabetes face significantly higher risk of exposure and contraction (and complications and even death) should they return to school full-time, for in-person learning. Putting a child at unnecessary risk, in the middle of a pandemic, seems shortsighted and myopic.

Some encouraging research in the midst of turmoil: nearly half of those with type 1 diabetes who contract COVID-19 have managed to treat the virus at home, although hyperglycemia and DKA are common.

Unfortunately, lacking any national guidance for families with children with preexisting conditions like type 1 diabetes, the decision is a personal one. Considerations include your child’s age and ability to self-manage, their mental well-being and ability to cope without friends or in-person learning, your state’s COVID-19 stats and rate of viral decline/increase, and your personal feelings of safety and security with your school’s precautions in regards to COVID-19 risk mitigation. National diabetes organizations have recently released information for returning to school and general COVID-19 guidance, and a town hall was recently held to help parents navigate the decision process.

In closing, any decision you make about your child’s learning needs to be based on your personal circumstances and how comfortable you are with either remote or in-person learning. Reach out to your school’s administrators to see what their plans are for mitigating virus spread this fall: are they limiting class sizes, mandating social distancing, placing hand sanitizers and handwashing stations throughout the school, and requiring masks? Or do you feel your school isn’t doing enough, and you’re willing and able to assist your child in a remote learning situation, where they see other children occasionally for social support? Discuss your concerns and questions with your pediatrician and/or endocrinologist and get their recommendations. Do you have an essential job, where you cannot be home during the day, and you need the school infrastructure for support? Or do you feel overwhelmed with the high risk factor that is type 1 diabetes, and you’re leaning towards homeschooling until there’s a vaccine? There are no perfect decisions here: guilt should not drive your decision. Go with your gut, and what works for your individual situation, and it’ll lead you in the right direction.

Are you navigating back to school (or not!) with your child? What decision has best-suited your family? Share this post and your thoughts below! We love hearing from our readers.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Book Review: Actually, I Can.: Growing Up with Type 1 Diabetes, A Story of Unexpected Empowerment

Morgan J. Panzirer is 19 years old and is a student at Villanova University, majoring in biology and minoring in Spanish. She was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes at age six and is now working towards her goals of attending medical school and becoming a pediatric endocrinologist.

She recently published a book called “Actually, I Can.: Growing Up with Type 1 Diabetes, A Story of Unexpected Empowerment”. As with all our book reviews, I received a copy of the text at no charge, and I did not receive any additional compensation for my review.

There are many short chapters, as the author walks us through her life with diabetes, highlighting the highs and the lows of her experience in relatable and vivid ways. She shares her positive revelations, as well as frustrations. I think this text is a good read for young people with type 1 diabetes, and especially those who are newly diagnosed. Morgan’s story is really a wonderful example of making lemonade out of lemons, and will sure be inspirational to many.

The title of the book, “Actually, I can” refers to the common assumption that people with diabetes cannot eat sugar. The author explains,

“I can eat anything I want and it doesn’t have to be sugar-free as long as I give myself the proper amount of insulin. There is no special diet I have to follow. I can eat literally anything I want to. Sorry, that sounds super aggressive but I can’t tell you how many times people assume everything I eat has to be sugar-free. It is incredibly frustrating.”

Morgan writes with great candor and a sense of humor, and I can’t imagine her stories wouldn’t be relatable to almost any young person with type 1 diabetes. The author’s upbeat attitude about living with the chronic and challenging health condition comes across throughout the entirety of the text. While she is very honest about the gravity of the disease and the difficulties of living with something so relentless day in and day out, she is also incredibly optimistic.

“The, “Oh my life sucks because I have this disease” attitude is not the one to live by. It is so much more empowering to think about it this way: “Yes this disease sucks, it is such a pain in the ass, and has had such an impact on my everyday life, but look at the kind of person it’s made me.” Make it into a positive. Not everything in your life has to be negative all of the time. This was something I had to learn because I was, like most, only seeing the negative. Just remember: there’s always a positive. No matter how deep it’s buried, I promise you it’s there. There is a reason that you’re in the situation you are right now. Whether it’s to better yourself or educate others, there is reasoning behind it. You may not understand why your life is hell now, but you will later. You have to trust me on that.”

In short, Panzirer’s book is honest and relatable about growing up with type 1 diabetes. It strikes the right balance of acknowledging the gravity and hardships of the condition with a great optimism and empowerment.

What has been your experience with type 1 diabetes? Please share your thoughts below, we love hearing from our readers.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Teenage Boy Receives Novel Stem Cell Therapy

Editor’s note: This article was updated on 7/31/2020 for accuracy regarding the specific stem cell treatment used. 

A lot of research is ongoing to develop novel therapies for type 1 diabetes. Many investigators are now focusing on the potential of various stem cells therapies. One approach involves using mesenchymal stromal cells (MSCs) (which can be obtained from the umbilical cord) and directly injecting them into the pancreas in an effort to induce insulin production. These kinds of treatments are still in the early experimental stages, with some clinical trials ongoing.

Seeking an Experimental Treatment Abroad

Just last week, Vera and her son Aaron set out to have the procedure done at Cryovida in Mexico. After having a difficult time managing his diabetes, Vera vowed to do whatever it took to lessen the burden for both her son and herself. Since Vera first posted about their upcoming journey, the diabetes online community became intrigued. Vera even started a Facebook page where people could learn and ask their questions. I thought it would be good to hear from Vera about the whole experience and how Aaron is doing now.

At what age was Aaron diagnosed with type 1 diabetes?

He [had] just turned 15.

How have Aaron and your family been managing with his diabetes leading up to this life-changing procedure?

Probably the hardest time in our lives. In the honeymoon stage, my son’s attitude was almost impossible to deal with. As he got used to monitoring and stabilizing, he improved. My son is on the spectrum, so he was always difficult. He would forget to take his long-lasting insulin, not cover for the junk he would eat, and his sugars were almost always over 500. It was living in hell. Six months ago, my son came to live with me in Mexico (he was living with my mom in NJ, because he wanted to finish school, and we moved to Mazatlan, Mexico 3 years ago). When he came his blood work was so bad that the doctor didn’t know how he was walking. His A1C was over 20, his triglycerides were over 700! The doctor immediately changed his insulin. He said they had him on such a low dose, no wonder we could never control it, and put him on cholesterol meds, which my son never took. Just two months later my son’s triglycerides went down to normal (and he never took a single med for it; It is just the fresh food here), and his A1C was down to 18. By the time we went for the procedure, his A1C was down to 15.9. My son still doesn’t listen, and eats tons of junk, does not cover for it. I have to be on top of him 24/7 to check his blood and take his insulin. So, if this works I may retire from my position of a drill sergeant.

What prompted you to start looking for possible cures or treatments? How did you hear about Stem Cell Educator Therapy?

My son [was] almost dying, and his dream to go into the military was taken away from him. My husband is a retired Vet, his father is a retired Vet, my grandfather was a retired Vet. We are a military family. This may give him the opportunity to serve, which is all he wants. I heard about it from research. I started googling diabetes cures and ran across different articles for stem cells. I always read everything, I rarely follow what is being pushed by news or politicians. I sit and read.

What are the benefits of this procedure for a patient living with type 1 diabetes? And what are the risks involved?

Well, ultimately a full cure, but for those that do not get cured, it lowers their need for insulin substantially. Risks… honestly not much [from] the procedure itself, but the normal risk, possible bleeding, pain in the area. Long term, diabetes can come back. Scientists still have not figured out how to protect the new beta cells from being attacked again by your immune system. For me, that is a risk I can live with. Even if he gets a year diabetes-free, I would pay and do the procedure again. The longest known case has been diabetes-free for 3 years now.  I am hoping [the]  next huge development will be scientists figuring out how to protect the new beta cells.

How did Aaron feel about it? Was he nervous? Excited? Or a little bit of both?

OMG, he was a mess. At first, he was stoked about it. He couldn’t wait. Then came time for the procedure, and he was like, “nope”. He was sitting in the huge cat scan room where they were doing the procedure saying “no, I don’t want it”. I had to tell the anesthesiologist to get him sedated ASAP, or my son was about to run out of the hospital in the gown down the street!

How was it dealing with Renu and Cryovida? How were the doctors? Were they able to speak English so they could communicate with Aaron?

First, I am lucky enough to live in Mexico, but I speak horribly. We were able to set up the full thing in one week. The reps did everything. They spoke perfect English. Once at the hospital, the doctors spoke English, Went through every piece of paper I signed, explained everything to me and my son. Let my husband and I be in the room until the procedure started (even though the hospital had a rule; one person per family due to COVID). After the procedure, all the doctors came in, explained everything. Gave me all the paperwork. The reps from Renu came with us from Mazatlan to Guadalajara, a six-hour drive, and stayed the whole full three days with us to make sure everything was okay. It was an overall great experience.

Image credit: Vera Mazatlan

How long did the procedure take and generally speaking, how is it done?

They were done in an hour, but most of the time was prep. The actual procedure takes 10 minutes. They make a hole in the femoral artery and lead a scope into the pancreas, where they then inject the cells.

How does Aaron feel now after the procedure? Did he have a lot of pain right after?

He feels amazing. The first thing he noticed is that his eyesight was no longer blurry. He was only in pain on the first day. Now he is back to his crazy self. He also has tons of energy. He was so sluggish before. That is the biggest change.

Have you noticed any changes to his blood sugars yet? Do you notice any fewer peaks and valleys? Has he tried experimenting with new foods or is this too soon?

When can he expect to see some results? I have noticed his blood sugar is lower, even after he eats junks. He is 17, controlling him to eat right is IMPOSSIBLE! They said I should start seeing a real difference in about 45 days to 6 months. Depends on each person.

Now that is it over and behind Aaron, how is his perspective looking forward to living with this disease? Is he glad he did it? I bet he can’t wait to see the results!

He is beyond grateful to possibly be given a chance to be diabetes-free. He still wants to go into the military. To him, this is a gift he would never get. I made him a promise [that]  if there was a way to cure him, I would pay any amount of money, and go anywhere to do it. I have fulfilled my promise.

What would you share with our community who has been so intrigued by your story, any advice you could share having gone through this with your own child?

Never give up hope, and never take no for an answer. If the doctor is not giving you the answer you want, get a second, third, fourth, doesn’t matter how many opinions. There is always hope and new science out there. Yes, it can be expensive, but ask yourself, what is your child’s health worth to you? Also, READ EVERYTHING. Science changes monthly. Keep reading, keep joining groups, keep reaching out. Forget what you hear on the news and from politicians, you are the advocate for your child. Go against the grain, and be a trendsetter. Those are the people that make a difference.

Vera, thank you so much for sharing both you and your son’s experience. We wish Aaron nothing but health and happiness and we will continue to follow his journey!

What are your thoughts on this kind of experimental treatment? Is this something you would consider? Share and comment below!

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Would You Restrict Carbs to Ease Diabetes Management? (ADA 2020)

Children and adolescents with type 1 diabetes are currently living at a time of a big diabetes technology boom. Continuous glucose monitors (CGMs) and insulin pumps are becoming more popular and offer the promise of better glycemic management and more freedom and peace of mind. As research and clinical trials on automated insulin delivery systems are in full-swing, clinicians from The Joslin Diabetes Center, Yale University, and Harvard University were interested in understanding various patient preferences. In one study, they posed the following question:

Would young people with type 1 diabetes be willing to limit their carbohydrate intake to a maximum of 50 g per meal if this meant they wouldn’t have to administer a manual bolus using an artificial pancreas (AP) system? 

The outcomes of this research were recently presented at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 80th Scientific Sessions.

To help understand patient perspectives and preferences on this subject,  39 participants (average age 17 +/- 4.7 years) were recruited at two study centers. These patients had an average diabetes duration of 9.4 +/- 4.9 years and an average HbA1c of 8.4 +/- 1.1 %. Interviews were conducted with each participant and parents to gauge their views on the willingness to “limit carb intake to 50 g per meal/snack if this would eliminate the need to manually bolus for food when using the AP system.”

Based on their analysis, the study authors derived the following major insights:

  1. The majority of participants (and their parents) would prefer to have the option of eating more than 50 g per meal/snack and were willing to manually bolus for the excess carbs.
  2. Most believed that 50 g per meal or snack was too restrictive.
  3. Young people generally agreed that automation would “reduce self-care burden.”

The researchers concluded,

“An aversion to food restrictions overpowers the desire for an AP system that can independently manage glucose levels though limited carbohydrate intake. Carbohydrate limitations appear to increase self-care burden more than the time and effort expended on carb counting and bolusing. Future AP systems should consider options that enable users to choose to bolus manually for large meals and to forego bolusing for smaller ones.”

Here are a few notable quotes from the participants, which were highlighted in the poster presentation:

“I think that, if I had to choose between bolusing or limiting my carb intake, I think I would rather bolus, just because nobody really wants to be told what to do.” (25-year-old female)

“Every once in a while she wants to have an ice cream. You know, I think she should be allowed to have these things sometimes when she wants them. I don’t want her to be too restricted.” (Mother of a 16-year-old.)

Sadly, despite continuing advances in technology, the glycemic management for youth with type 1 diabetes has been stagnant or worsening, depending on the age group, for decades. As per the most recent available data, the average HbA1c for young people with type 1 is about 8.7%, similar to what was observed in this cohort. Automated insulin delivery could offer an important solution to so many young people who do not meet the ADA-set glycemic targets (currently, the organization recommends individualizing the A1c goals, from as low as <6.5% all the way up to <8% for some patients).

This study provides an interesting snapshot into what many young people with type 1 diabetes appear to consider very important — the freedom to eat whatever they want and bolus for it. 

There has been a long-standing debate, often in the diabetes online community, and sometimes among healthcare providers, about a low-carbohydrate approach for young people. Many have highlighted the benefits, and exceptional success stories. They are not just anecdotes, either. At least one study has demonstrated exceptional outcomes of carbohydrate lowering for youth with type 1 diabetes, with excellent adherence and reported quality of life, a normal average A1c of ~5.7%, and a very low rate of adverse events.

Nevertheless, some question difficulty of maintaining a lower-carbohydrate diet, and concerns have been cited over the potential for the development of eating disorders as a result of “restricted eating”.

When it comes to developing AP systems, this study suggests that many young patients would prefer more flexibility in the upper threshold of their carbohydrate intake and are willing to put in the work to manually bolus for and accept the outcomes, whatever they may be, of higher carbohydrate eating patterns, in lieu of sticking to a recommended carb limit and not having to manually deliver their insulin dose. Of  course, this is just a small study, and the results may be skewed towards this perspective due to the predominance of teenagers in this cohort. Also, it may be interesting to evaluate a shift in this perspective, if any, following a formal diabetes education program to explain to patients and parents, in detail, the benefits of lowering carbohydrate intake for diabetes management in general, and in the context of AP technology.

What are your thoughts on the subject? We love hearing from our readers.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

Debate: Should the Artificial Pancreas Include Glucagon? (ADA 2020)

For the millions of people living with type 1 diabetes worldwide, the development of an effective system to automatically regulate blood sugar levels is of paramount significance. Artificial pancreas systems (APS) are being developed with the goals of automatically adjusting the delivery of insulin (and potentially, glucagon) based on glucose readings from a continuous glucose monitor (CGM), taking a lot of burden off patients, improving glycemic management, and enhancing safety.

What is the best way to approach the design of an artificial pancreas system? What are the pros and cons of including glucagon in the system alongside insulin?

Two experts debated this important issue at the American Diabetes Association (ADA) 80th Scientific Sessions last month.

Dr. Roman Hovorka, PhD, FMedSci from the University of Cambridge, argued against the inclusion of glucagon in the system, while Dr. Steven J. Russell, MD, PhD from the Massachusetts General Hospital, presented his case to support the use of a dual-hormone system. Both speakers disclosed several relationships with diabetes technology companies (including those working to develop APS).

Here is the summary of this interesting debate.

The Case for Single Hormone

Dr. Roman Hovorka highlighted some research outcomes of artificial pancreas systems that utilize insulin alone.  He presented data from several studies showing that these devices “improve time in target and time below target” as well as reduce A1c. However, the time in target range was only increased by ~11%, and the A1c improvements were modest, with the average A1c still above the ADA recommendations.

Dr. Hovorka explained that the vast majority of companies are currently moving forward with single-hormone systems. He also focused on a system developed by Cambridge that he’s very familiar with, showing data where ~95% time-in-range (TIR) was achieved. Notably, he remarked that a low-carb diet was also an important factor in this success case. Overall, however, only 7% of users were shown to achieve a time-in-range metric of >90%, although 28% achieved a TIR of >80%, 69% achieved a TRI >70%, and 86% achieved a TIR of >60%.

The presenter noted that one of the main issues currently hindering the efficacy of the APS is the delayed insulin absorption and action after subcutaneous insulin delivery. Adding glucagon into the system will not fix the issue, he noted, as “dual hormone delivery DOES NOT accelerate insulin absorption.”

While he acknowledged that glucagon could be useful in reducing low blood sugar risk in such systems, he also highlighted the complexity and high cost of such a system as barriers. In addition, he noted that the use of two separate cannulas could be burdensome, and for children, in particular. He also noted that the chronic delivery of glucagon subcutaneously requires more research to identify any risks.

In comparing the outcomes between single-hormone vs. dual-hormone systems, Dr. Hovorka noted that there was a slight increase in the TIR for the dual system (~78% vs. 71% in the longest studies), and the mean glucose (156 mg/dL vs. 140 mg/dL) was lower for those using the dual system. He also presented data to indicate that daytime hypoglycemia (in particular during exercise) could be reduced using a glucagon-insulin system, while a single insulin system was enough to eliminate hypoglycemia overnight. Furthermore, “comparative benefits of the single- and dual-hormone systems for improving HbA1c and preventing severe hypoglycemia remain unknown,” he underscored.

The Case for Dual Hormone

Dr. Steven Russell noted first that he believes “insulin-only hybrid artificial pancreas systems are the state-of-the-art in diabetes care” and that he is involved with projects that utilize both single- and dual-hormone approaches. Next, he went on to explain why he thinks a dual-hormone system would be more appropriate.

After pointing out that there are actually two hormones that are missing in type 1 diabetes – insulin AND glucagon, he suggested that in addition to further preventing hypoglycemia, a dual-hormone system can also help achieve lower average glucose and higher TIR than an insulin-only system. He presented several studies to support this point, including recent data from his project.

Importantly, Dr. Russell pointed out that by using micro-doses of glucagon to prevent or treat hypoglycemia could “oppose weight gain or encourage loss”. This is because using glucagon instead of carbohydrates to prevent or treat low blood glucose “promotes satiety and increases energy expenditure”.

While the speaker acknowledged the challenges associated with developing a dual-hormone system, he also noted that recent work has been bringing us closer to achieving this feat effectively. For instance, a number of stable glucagon formulations are now available (although not yet FDA approved for use in such a system). The safety studies that have been conducted have been reassuring.

Moreover, Dr. Russell addressed a common concern of glycogen store depletion, citing a 2015 study that indicated “no significant decrement in liver glycogen after repeated glucagon doses”. Importantly, he also presented some research showing that “users prefer the bi-hormonal system”, especially among those who aim for lower targets.

When addressing the potential increase in cost for a dual-hormone system, Dr. Russell had this to say:

“[The] significant increase in beneficial outcomes will justify the increase in cost… The difference in having no automation to single-hormone artificial pancreas is the same increment as you get going from a single-hormone artificial pancreas to dual-hormone… If one can justify adding automation, one could justify some additional expense to add the cost of the glucagon…”

Conclusions

Numerous artificial pancreas systems are currently being developed, with the vast majority opting for the insulin-only version. No doubt, the specific algorithms and insulin types used also play a paramount role in their efficacy and patient satisfaction. The use of glucagon remains a point of contention.

What are your thoughts on the subject?

Source: diabetesdaily.com

The Biggest News in Diabetes Technology, Drugs, and Nutrition: Highlights from ADA 2020

This content originally appeared on diaTribe. Republished with permission.

By Eliza Skoler, Jimmy McDermott, Matthew Garza, Divya Gopisetty, Frida Velcani, Emily Fitts, Karena Yan, Joseph Bell, and Rosalind Lucier

The diaTribe team attended the 2020 ADA 80th Scientific Sessions to share several of the greatest highlights from the virtual conference!

The American Diabetes Association (ADA) 80th Scientific Sessions was full of exciting news on advances and studies in diabetes technology, treatments, and nutrition. Click on the links below to learn more!

Diabetes Technology

Diabetes Drugs

Nutrition, Exercise, and Mindset

Access to Care and Policy

Diabetes Technology

The Next Generation of Automated Insulin Delivery Systems for People with Type 1 Diabetes – Updates from Four New Clinical Trials

The first day of ADA featured data on four clinical trials of the newest automated insulin delivery (AID) systems. In what was a packed (virtual) room, the session began with three highly anticipated presentations of studies on Medtronic’s MiniMed 780G Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop System (AHCL). Dr. Bruce Bode, presented the US adult pivotal trial. Here are the main results:

  • Big news – nearly 80% of participants achieved a time in range of more than 70% without an increase in hypoglycemia.
    • On average, AHCL therapy increased time in range to nearly 75% from a baseline of 68.8%.
    • Among adolescents, time in range increased to over 72% from a baseline of 62.4%.
  • AHCL therapy improved average A1C from 7.5% to 7.0%. This is what is sometimes called a “high quality A1C” in the field – hypoglycemia is low, and therefore not contributing to a “better” number.
  • How were these results achieved? Experts said that the lower algorithm target of 100 mg/dl (vs. 120 mg/dl) helped, along with an active insulin time (AIT) setting of 2-3 hours. If you use a pump, check what you have for this setting and talk to your healthcare professional about it to see if you can make changes (regardless of whether your pump can deliver insulin automatically).

Following Dr. Bode, International Diabetes Center’s Dr. Rich Bergenstal shared data from FLAIR, a trial comparing MiniMed 780G Advanced Hybrid Closed Loop (AHCL) with the 670G Hybrid Closed Loop (HCL) in adolescents and youth with type 1 diabetes (ages 14-29). This is the first ever head-to-head comparison of an AID system with a commercially available AID system. The study also had broad entry criteria: at start, 20% of participants were on multiple daily injections of insulin (MDI), 38% were not using CGM, and 25% had a baseline A1C above 8.5%.

  • Time in range over 24 hours increased from 57% at baseline to 63% with the 670G and to 67% with the 780G. Notably, 6% greater time in range totals nearly an hour and a half more time in range per day.
  • Compared to baseline, the number of participants achieving the international time in range consensus target of more than 70% was nearly two times higher with the 670G and almost three times higher with the 780G (22% and 32% of participants, respectively, compared to a baseline of 12%; see slide below).
  • This was the first time that a study measured participants meeting the combined metric of both time in range greater than 70% and time below 54 mg/dL less than 1% (see slide below). This is important since all therapy – and particulary automated insulin delivery – aims to decrease hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia.

Graph

Image source: diaTribe

  • From a baseline average of 7.9%, those on the 670G achieved an average A1C of 7.6%, and those on the 780G had A1Cs that fell to 7.4% on average.
  • Both the 670G and 780G were considered safe when evaluating severe hypoglycemia or diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA).
  • Participants satisfaction favored the 780G over the 670G.

Today’s MiniMed 780G data finished with Dr. Martin de Bock’s study, which served as the clinical trial supporting 780G’s CE-Mark submission (and today’s announced approval in Europe). In a study of 59 people (ages 7-80 years, with an average age of 23) who had never used an insulin pump:

  • Average time in range increased to over 70% from 58% (a change of 12.5%) when using the 780G compared to a sensor augmented pump.
  • Overnight time in range increased to 75% from 59% when using the 780G compared to the sensor augmented pump.
  • The improvement in time in range was primarily driven by a 12.1% decrease in time in hyperglycemia (high blood sugar) with the 780G.

It was warming on Twitter to see Dr. de Bock with his three small children while also engaging in Q&A/Chat from their breakfast table. If you’re on social media, follow Dr. De Bock here.

The session concluded with Stanford’s Dr. Bruce Buckingham who presented data on Insulet’s Omnipod 5 Automated Glucose Control System, powered by Horizon. What fantastic data! The study assessed the safety and effectiveness of the fully on-body system over 14 days of use before starting the three-month pivotal study. Interestingly, this study was conducted during the winter holiday season when some of the lowest time in range is observed (typically a three percent drop); the system performed remarkably well in both children and adults, even during this challenging time period.

  • In adults, time in range increased to 73% on the hybrid closed loop system, up from 65.6% using standard therapy – this is the same as nearly two hours more time in range per day.
  • In youth, time in range increased to 70% on the hybrid closed loop system, up from 51% using standard therapy – what an increase, nearly five hours more per day.

These reductions in time in range were mostly driven by a decrease in hyperglycemia. Hypoglycemia was also very low to start. Dr. Buckingham eloquently emphasized, “… this is so important for families and people at night to go to sleep and not worry about hypoglycemia … for a number of kids, they got to go on their first sleepover during this study. It was really decreasing a lot of the burden and a lot of the thinking about diabetes.”

Tandem’s Control-IQ Real-World Data: Time in Range Increases 2.4 Hours Per Day

Tandem presented two posters featuring very positive real-world data from early Control-IQ users. Control-IQ was cleared in December 2019 and officially launched in January 2020.

The first poster, Control-IQ Technology in the Real World: The First 30 daysincluded at least 30 days of pre- and post-Control-IQ data from 1,659 participants. During the first 30-days of Control-IQ use:

  • Time in range increased by 2.4 hours a day (compared to pre-Control-IQ data) to 78%
  • The time in range improvement was driven by a 9.5% decrease in time spent above 180 mg/dl (that’s 2.3 hours less per day in hyperglycemia – wow!).
  • Average glucose levels fell from 161 mg/dL to 148 mg/dL.
  • Glucose management indicator (or GMI, an estimate of A1C) fell from 7.2% to 6.9%.
  • Users spent 96% of time in closed loop!
Teplizumab graph

Image source: diaTribe

The second poster, Glycemic Outcomes for People with Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes Using Control-IQ Technology: Real-World Data from Early Adopters, looked at 2,896 participants with type 1 diabetes and 144 participants with type 2 diabetes, using at least 14 days of pre- and post-Control-IQ data.

  • Time in range was improved by 2.1 hours per day in the type 1 group to 77%
  • Time in range was improved by 1.4 hours per day in the type 2 group 79%
  • Both groups spent 96% of time in closed loop.

We learned so much at ADA about improving time in range, and we were moved by the power of automated insulin delivery in doing so, since it shows much greater time in range with what sounds like so less work for people and their healthcare teams.

To learn more about Control-IQ, check out the following articles:

A1C vs. Time in Range – Which Should be Used for Children with Diabetes?

A panel discussion of leading experts, moderated by JDRF CEO Dr. Aaron Kowalski, focused on the pros and cons of using A1C and time in range as primary metrics in diabetes care and management for children. As they debated the best marker of glucose management, they attempted to define the ultimate “goal” of diabetes care: is it preventing complications, spending less time in hyperglycemia and hypoglycemia, or improving mental and emotional wellbeing?

Dr. William Winter presented extensive evidence that A1C can predict a person’s risk of developing complications (kidney disease, heart disease, retinopathy, and neuropathy). While lower time in range has been associated with microvascular complications, experts agree that more studies are needed to determine its predictive accuracy for long-term outcomes. Dr. Thomas Danne presented results from the SWEET project that furthered the case for A1C as a measure of population outcomes: setting ambitious targets based on A1C could lead to significant improvements in outcomes for children with type 1 diabetes.

A1C ethnicity

Image source: diaTribe

Experts discussed cases in which A1C can be misleading and time in range may emerge as a more reliable measure of glucose control. Dr. Winter explained that population A1cs differ among racial and ethnic groups, leading to misdiagnosis (for example, African Americans have a higher A1c on average compared to white people). Very importantly, as diaTribe has reported on for many years in Beyond A1C research, A1C also does not demonstrate hypoglycemia, hyperglycemia, or glucose variability. According to Dr. Danne, healthcare professionals find CGM reports more helpful in identifying daily highs and lows and in adjusting therapy. This technology allows them to better work alongside families to set individual and measurable goals based on time in range – it is terrific to hear about this continued teamwork.

Messages

Image source: diaTribe

SENCE

Image source: diaTribe

Though Dr. Danne acknowledged the issue of access and affordability, he believes CGM use will continue to increase among children who are tech savvy. Dr. Daniel DeSalvo presented data from the SENCE and CITY to further support use of CGM among children with type 1 diabetes.

CITY

Image source: diaTribe

Young children (two to seven years old) enrolled in the SENCE study saw their hypoglycemia (blood glucose under 70 mg/dL) and time spent over 300 mg/dL reduce by 40 minutes per day – that’s nearly five hours a week. Teens and young adults (ages 14 to 24) in the CITY study saw a 7% increase in time in range, which is almost two more hours per day spent in range – 100 minutes, to be exact!

The Use of CGM in Type 2 Diabetes — Is There Value?

Continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) has been a revolutionary tool; it gives people real-time updates on their blood glucose levels that can help to increase time in range (TIR). For most providers in diabetes, the value of CGM is now nearly universally supported (either “real-time” or “professional CGM”) even if all people with diabetes can’t get it. Reimbursement throughout much of the world has reinforced the value of CGM in type 1 diabetes almost everywhere, though the value of CGM for people with type 2 diabetes is still being explored.

CGM

Image source: diaTribe

Dr. Philis-Tsimikas argued for CGM for type 2 diabetes given the technology’s ability to offer remote solutions for care management, provide direct feedback of behavior modification, and allow evidence-based changes to drug therapies. Dr. Philis-Tsimikas shared data from several CGM studies in people with type 2 diabetes on a variety of therapies (basal insulin alone, and oral and other medications), highlighting the improvement in clinical and behavioral outcomes. In what could be the most exciting set of results, people with type 2 diabetes who used real-time CGM (RT-CGM) intermittently for 12 weeks showed an average A1C reduction of 1 percentage point at the end of 12 weeks (compared to a 0.5 percentage point reduction in the blood glucose meter control group). During the 40-week follow up period, A1C was still significantly lower in the RT-CGM group.

Dr. Elbert Huang gave what we felt was a less persuasive view. He argued that in most cases, CGM use is not valuable for people with type 2 diabetes, on the basis of cost. Howerver this is based on outdated data – just yesterday at ADA, there was striking Late-Breaker data presented that showed very meaningful reductions in A1c by Dr. Eden Miller and Dr. Gene Wright (he’ll be speaking at the TCOYD/diaTribe Forum Monday night!) The study showed very meaningful A1C reductions in thousands of people with diabetes – starting A1C was 8.5%, which fell to 7.6% to 7.9% depending on the population. Dr. Huang presented two studies that showed that the cost ratio of CGM was different depending on the assumptions of costs related to the quality and quantity of lives impacted by type 2 diabetes. A QALY, by the way, is a “quality adjusted life year” that measures both quantity and quality (based on disease burden) of life years. We also strongly believe that many people become more engaged in their diabetes management due to a variety of factors that reduce stigma (no fingerstick tests required, etc.) and enable them to focus on how data and technology can work together to improve their results.

Dr. Huang suggests that less costly treatments (such as the use of ACE inhibitors to avoid high blood pressure or to prevent kidney disease) might be better areas of focus and certainly all experts would agree that focus here is important as well. He also mentioned potential negative psychological effects of constantly checking blood glucose readings using CGM and the fact that this technology may only work if it is shared with a person’s healthcare team – we agree integration with healthcare teams where available is a valuable point and also emphasize our learnings from ADA 2020 from many providers that emphasize, as Dr. Diana Isaacs did on Saturday, that CGM enables greater interest in diabetes management by people. While the technology is extremely important, Dr. Huang also expressed that it could be more valuable if the price of CGM declines or if it is shown to improve glucose management while also reducing the need for costly medicines, among other factors – these factors of cost are extremely important. CGM is going down in price on average and global pricing of $109/month is already available from FreeStyle Libre all over the world. While no one should have to pay $3/day on their own, we believe many more health systems are interested in investing more here due to the positive results they are seeing. We’ll be back with more data from the ADA 2020 Scientific Sessions on this and related fronts!

Parent Perspectives on DIY Closed-Loop

An observational study on Loop, a do-it-yourself (DIY) automated insulin delivery system (AID), used focus groups to gather the attitudes and experiences of parents and children using Loop. The study followed people using an AID system, continuous glucose monitor (CGM) readings, and a communications bridge device, called “RileyLink.”

Overall, parents felt that Loop had a positive impact on their family’s lives. They reported the following outcomes:

  • Improvements in emotional health as a result of a greater sense of security and normalcy, increased quality of life, and decreased parental stress.
  • Improvements in other areas of life, including management of children’s diabetes at school, quality of sleep, confidence in caregivers, and children’s ability to explore extracurriculars without supervision.

Dr. Anastasia Albanese-O’Neill presented survey results on what parents expect of school and diabetes camp staff to help their children manage their DIY closed-loop system. School nurses were also surveyed on their opinions regarding DIY. Here are some highlights:

  • 29% of parents expect that school staff will assist children with delivering a bolus.
  • Expectations of diabetes camp staff were lower than school staff – 23% of parents expect school staff to assist with carbohydrate counting and timing of bolus, while only 13% of parents expect diabetes camp staff to do those things.
  • Though 46% of school nurses had never heard of DIY before participating in the survey, 33% of them agreed that school staff should help students using DIY who cannot manage it independently.

This suggests a need for training on DIY and diabetes technology for school and camp staff.

Is Technology the Solution to Hypoglycemia? Dr. Bergenstal and Dr. Wilmot Debate

Dr. Richard Bergenstal from the International Diabetes Center (IDC) emphasized the advantages of using continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) for reducing episodes of hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) and other health complications in this debate with Dr. Wilmot. Both doctors are highly regarded, and we took this as a big opportunity to learn lots more rather than land only on one size, though it’s certainly hard to avoid saying yes to this question, from diaTribe’s perspective. Dr. Bergenstal eloquently explained that, on average, hypoglycemia is the biggest barrier to optimal blood glucose management, pointing to the fact that A1C levels increase when people fear going low (what he called the “ripple effect of hypoglycemia”). Luckily, with CGM reports, people can finally detect patterns in hypoglycemia and understand exactly how much time they are spending with blood glucose levels under 70 mg/dL in a day.

Evidence shows that closed-loop technology can reduce and even prevent hypoglycemia. In a study of 124 people with diabetes that Dr. Bergenstal shared, the use of automated-insulin delivery systems (AID) completely eliminated hypoglycemia. This was a historic win – previous studies (see slide below) using low glucose suspend systems (LGS) reduced hypoglycemia by 38%, while predictive low glucose suspend systems (PLGS) reduced hypoglycemia by 59%.

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Dr. Emma Wilmot argued that while these findings are exciting, technology is only part of the solution. Technology does reduce the risk of hypoglycemia, but is not available to all (particularly those from underserved populations) and is not suited to all. She said that unless CGM is also paired with structured education, it will not provide the significant and lasting improvements in hypoglycemia awareness that the diabetes community needs. We know, of course, how important education is – and diaTribe will be coming back to discuss this in an upcoming piece about a new article just published in Diabetes Care earlier this week (Diabetes Sisters’ CEO Anna Norton was a key author in the new consensus report)!

Early CGM use can help kids and predict T1D progression

The use of CGM across different populations – including people of various ages and different stages of type 1 diabetes – shows that CGM can accurately predict the progression of type 1 diabetes for people at risk. For those transitioning from “stage 2” to “stage 3”, continuous monitoring can also help prevent DKA, which many people with type 1 have at diagnosis. While there are no clinical guidelines at the moment for how to manage “stage 2” type 1 diabetes, the TESS study is currently evaluating the benefits of CGM use in this population. “Staging” of type 1 diabetes is fairly new and we will be thinking about this more as we consider how to further improve education about type 1 diabetes.

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Experts all agreed that earlier use of CGM could result in better diabetes management later on. Dr. Jan Fairchild studied the start and continued use of CGM in a pediatric population with early “stage 3” type 1 diabetes. Kids who started CGM at diagnosis had slightly higher CGM wear at 24 months, compared to kids who started within the first two years of diagnosis (78% vs. 66%, respectively), though this result was not significant. All children using CGM ultimately benefitted – they demonstrated a median A1C of 7.7% at 24 months, which was less than the clinic median A1C of 8.1%. Dr. Fairchild also mentioned the educational role that early CGM use could play, especially with a focus on time in range.

Diabetes Drugs

VERTIS-CV Trial of Steglatro and Heart and Kidney Health

Dr. Samuel Dagogo-Jack and Dr. Christopher Cannon presented highly anticipated results from the VERTIS-CV trial, which studied the effects of Merck/Pfizer’s SGLT-2 inhibitor Steglatro (ertugliflozin) on over 8,000 participants with type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular disease (CVD). The trial found that treatment with Steglatro reduced average A1C by 0.5 percentage points, lowered average weight by nearly five pounds, and reduced blood pressure compared to standard diabetes treatment. Steglatro also improved kidney function, as measured by eGFR, and reduced the number of study participants with heart failure.

The researchers agreed that the VERTIS-CV results confirm the current guidance on the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors to prevent and treat heart failure and diabetes-related kidney disease. As a reminder, the current ADA Standards of Care advise using SGLT-2 inhibitors in people with type 2 diabetes for reducing hyperglycemia (high blood sugar), improving blood pressure, and facilitating weight loss. SGLT-2 inhibitors have also been shown to improve heart and kidney health in people with and without diabetes.

Read more about the trial in our full article here.

New Data Shows Teplizumab Delays Diagnosis of Type 1 Diabetes

At last year’s ADA, we were very excited to report on trial results that showed teplizumab (pronounced Tep-pli-ZU-mab!) delayed type 1 diabetes diagnosis by two years, compared to placebo. The study enrolled 76 participants (55 children and 21 adults) who were the relatives of people with type 1 diabetes and did not have diabetes, and were at high risk for developing the condition (they had unstable blood glucose levels and at least two diabetes-related antibodies). On average, time to diagnosis of type 1 diabetes for the teplizumab group was four years, compared to two years with placebo. At the end of the trial, 53% of the teplizumab-treated group did not have type 1 diabetes, compared to 28% of the placebo group.

New follow up data, presented by Dr. Emily Sims (Indiana University), showed sustained reduction in the onset of type 1 diabetes. Previously, teplizumab had been proven to delay clinical onset by only two years in high-risk people; however, these new data support a delay of as much as three years, compared to placebo.

Furthermore, people who were treated with teplizumab showed a “striking reversal” in C-peptide decline (this is a common measure of type 1 diabetes) in the six months following treatment, after which C-peptide levels seemed to stabilize. These data suggest that the treatment helped stabilize beta cell function (the cells in the pancreas that make insulin) and that repeated teplizumab treatment at key time points may be able to further extend, delay, or even prevent diagnosis of type 1 diabetes. While not a cure, three years of living without daily diabetes management is certainly a meaningful outcome.

When will teplizumab become available? With an estimated six-month review time if Priority Review is granted, an FDA decision could be expected as soon as mid-2021.

SGLT-2 Inhibitors and GLP-1 Agonists to Prevent Heart Disease

Dr. Mikhail Kosiborod (University of Missouri-Kansas City) and Dr. Darren McGuire (University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center) debated the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists in primary prevention of heart disease (called cardiovascular disease, or CVD).

As background, primary prevention is using medication in people who do not have CVD in order to prevent CVD. This is different from secondary prevention in which a person who is diagnosed with CVD uses a medication to prevent progression of the disease.

Dr. Kosiborod started the session with a strong “yes” – SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists should be used for primary prevention. However, primary prevention is difficult to prove: larger and longer trials are needed. Dr. Kosiborod believes that we do have enough evidence.

  • A meta-analysis of SGLT-2 inhibitor trials suggests that:
    • SGLT-2 therapy works to prevent heart failure regardless of whether a person has established CVD (based on hospitalizations for heart failure).
    • SGLT-2 therapy protects kidney health regardless of whether a person has established CVD.
  • The FDA has approved SGLT-2 inhibitor Farxiga for people with type 2 diabetes and established CVD, and those with risk factors for CVD. That is primary prevention!
  • REWIND showed that GLP-1 agonist Trulicity prevents major adverse cardiovascular events (MACE, which includes stroke, heart attack, and cardiovascular death) in people with and without established CVD.
  • The FDA agrees again here – Trulicity is approved for people with type 2 diabetes with CVD and those with risk factors for CVD.
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Next, Dr. Kosiborod looked at the population level. Worldwide, primary prevention with SGLT-2s and GLP-1s will significantly reduce cardiovascular events (compared to secondary prevention alone) because there are many people who are not diagnosed with CVD.

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Dr. Kosiborod believes this primary prevention is cost-effective and essential, given the high risk to the population. And many SGLT-2s and GLP-1s will become generic in the future.

Dr. McGuire argued that we are not ready for SGLT-2s and GLP-1s to be used in primary prevention. He pointed to a meta-analysis that showed no benefit of SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists in atherosclerotic cardiovascular disease (ASCVD) outcomes compared to placebo in people without established ASCVD. In his analysis of REWIND, Dr. McGuire pointed to an absolute risk difference of 0.3% in people without established CVD taking Trulicity versus placebo (1.7 events for every 100 patient years, vs. 2.0 events for every 100 patient years). This would mean that you would need to treat 333 people without CVD to prevent one MACE – which would be $3.4 million in drug costs.

Both speakers agreed that SGLT-2 inhibitors have shown strong effects in primary prevention for heart failure and kidney outcomes. There was no significant debate on this point, as the data speak for themselves regarding the profound effect of SGLT-2 treatment in reducing these outcomes.

Weekly Basal Insulin – The Wave of the Future?

New types of insulin – once-weekly basal insulin injections – are being tested in clinical trials and may bring major developments to how people take insulin. In this session, Professor Philip Home, Dr. J. Hans DeVries, and Dr. Stefano Del Prato discussed the pros and cons and recent results from clinical trials of weekly basal insulin.

Prof. Home explained that weekly insulin could reduce hurdles in starting or maintaining insulin therapy for people with diabetes, especially those who are:

  • Afraid of injections
  • Hesitant to start insulin due to the change in lifestyle or impact on quality of life
  • Wary about handling devices
  • Already on a weekly injectable GLP-1 agonist

Weekly insulin could help people adhere to their prescribed therapy – but it will likely make dose titration and adjustments more challenging. One of the major challenges of weekly insulin is that people can’t modify insulin doses according to life disruptions (for example, sick days or increased physical activity).

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Dr. DeVries and Dr. Del Prato reviewed the various weekly insulins that companies are studying to evaluate their safety and how they affect diabetes outcomes in comparison to existing insulins. Dr. Del Prato highlighted results from a recent study that compared Novo Nordisk’s weekly insulin (icodec) to Glargine U100 (Lantus) in people with type 2 diabetes:

  • Both insulins showed a similar reduction in A1c.
  • Icodec showed improved glucose profiles for self-monitored blood glucose (SMBG).
  • Rates of hypoglycemia were low for both insulins.
  • Weight gain, which is common when starting insulin, was the same for both insulins.
  • Icodec did not show any new safety issues.

Research is still to come on weekly basal insulin, but it looks promising.

Farxiga for Diabetes Prevention? New Analysis of DAPA-HF Trial

Yale’s Dr. Silvio Inzucchi presented an analysis of the landmark DAPA-HF trial, suggesting that along with the heart health benefits of SGLT-2 inhibitor Farxiga, an additional benefit of preventing type 2 diabetes also exists.

As background, DAPA-HF examined the heart health effects of Farxiga (spelled Forxiga in Europe) in people with and without type 2 diabetes. The trial showed that:

  • Farxiga reduced heart-related death or worsening heart failure by 26% compared to placebo (a “nothing” pill).
  • The heart benefits were the same in people with diabetes and without diabetes.

Dr. Inzucchi’s new analysis showed that for participants who did not have type 2 diabetes at the start of the trial, treatment with Farxiga reduced the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a whopping 32% compared to placebo. After 18 months, 4.9% of the Farxiga group had been diagnosed with diabetes compared to 7.1% of the placebo group. This is a big deal and anyone you know at high risk of type 2 diabetes should learn about these results and talk to their doctor or healthcare team.

We’re glad to see this important benefit – type 2 diabetes prevention – may be conveyed to people with heart failure who can now take Farxiga regardless of whether or not they have type 2 diabetes. As a reminder, Farxiga is the first SGLT-2 inhibitor drug to be approved for a non-diabetes specific population.

Metformin, GLP-1 agonists, and SGLT-2 inhibitors in Type 1 Diabetes

UCSD’s Dr. Jeremy Pettus moderated a session with three expert presenters from across the world: Dr. Irene Hramiak (Western University), Dr. Tina Vilsboll (Steno Diabetes Center Copenhagen), and Dr. Chantal Mathieu (University Hospital Gasthuisberg Leuven).

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Dr. Hramiak kicked things off discussing the current challenges and risks of insulin therapy, including hypoglycemia, weight gain, glucose variability, and diabetic ketoacidosis (DKA). According to data from the T1D Exchange, average A1C levels have not improved in the last decade, and adolescents continue to be a difficult group for glycemic management, despite increased use of pumps and continuous glucose monitors (CGM). How can adjunctive therapies (added to insulin) help?

The REMOVAL study looked at the effects of metformin in people with type 1 diabetes (40 years of age or older). Over three years, participants taking metformin saw the following benefits compared to those taking a placebo:

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  • A decrease in A1C of 0.13 percentage points
  • A reduction in insulin dose by 1.2 units
  • No change in the rate of minor or severe hypoglycemia
  • From a baseline body weight of 193 lbs (87.7 kg), a weight loss of 2.6 lbs (1.17 kg)
  • A reduction in LDL (“bad”) cholesterol by 0.13 mmol/L (5 mg/dL)

These data suggest that metformin did not have a clinically meaningful impact on glycemic management but may improve cardiovascular health in adults with type 1 diabetes. That’s disappointing, but something we’ve all wondered for years – now we know!

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Dr. Vilsboll continued the conversation by discussing GLP-1 agonists for type 1 diabetes. She reminded that adjunctive therapy has several important goals but does not replace insulin – which is the main treatment for people with type 1 diabetes.

Dr. Vilsboll provided an overview of the effect of GLP-1 drugs in the pancreas (on insulin-producing beta cells), liver, brain, kidneys, and other organs before sharing data from a trial on GLP-1agonists in type 1 diabetes.

The LIRA-1 Study evaluated 24 weeks of GLP-1 agonist use in people with type 1 diabetes and excess weight and found that GLP-1 treatment:

  • Did not have a statistically significant (meaningful) reduction in A1C compared to placebo.
  • Reduced body weight by 13.4 lbs (6.1 kg) compared to placebo (from a baseline of about 205 lbs, or 93 kg).
  • Increased gastrointestinal side effects (nausea, diarrhea).
  • Did not decrease the amount of bolus insulin required but reduced basal insulin by about five to six units per day.

The ADJUNCT trial was the longest such trial, involving 1,400 people with type 1 diabetes with an A1C between 7%-10%. In this trial, participants taking GLP-1 agonists experienced:

  • A clinically significant reduction in A1C of 0.54 percentage points compared to a baseline of 8.2% after 52 weeks.
  • A reduction in body weight that correlated with the dose of GLP-1 agonist: 10.8 lbs (4.9 kg) of weight loss with a 1.8 mg dose of GLP-1 agonist; 7.9 lbs (3.6 kg) with a 1.2 mg dose; and 4.9 lbs (2.2 kg) with a 0.6 mg dose.
  • An increased rate of symptomatic hypoglycemia, but no increase in severe hypoglycemia or DKA.
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In a more recent trial, MAG1C, researchers examined the use of GLP-1 agonist exenatide (Byetta) over 26 weeks in adults with type 1 diabetes. Researchers found that compared to placebo, the GLP-1 agonist did not decrease A1C but did decrease insulin dose and body weight. Researchers concluded that the GLP-1 agonist does not have a future as an add-on treatment to insulin in type 1 diabetes. We are not certain this is the correct answer, because it seems like TIR would’ve been useful to measure – but, there’s no fighting city hall.

The session concluded with Dr. Chantal Mathieu discussing the role of SLGT-2 inhibitors in people with type 1 diabetes. She pointed to three main trials: DEPICT with Farxiga, InTANDEM with Zynquista, and EASE with Jardiance.

Compared to placebo, participants taking Farxiga (either 5mg or 10mg dose) experienced:

  • Approximately a 0.45 percentage point drop in A1C by 24 weeks, and 0.2 to 0.3 percentage point decrease in A1C after 52 weeks.​
  • time in range increase of about 10% – a gain of almost two more hours of time in range per day

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  • A 10% decrease in both basal and bolus insulin.
  • A decrease in body weight of about 5.5 lbs (2.5 kg) with a 5mg dose, and about 7.7 lbs (3.5 kg) with a 10mg dose (from a baseline of 179 lbs, or 81 kg).
  • An increased risk of genital infection and urinary tract infections.
  • No increase in hypoglycemia.
  • An increased risk of DKA that rises with a larger dose.

The inTandem trial also showed a drop in A1C: after 24 weeks, participants taking Zynquista experienced a 0.5 percentage point drop in A1C compared to those taking placebo. Time in range also increased with Zynquista. There was a 77-minute increase in time in range with the 200 mg dose, and almost a three-hour increase for people taking the 400mg dose. The increased risks of DKA and genital infections were also observed in this trial.

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The EASE trial provided evidence that supported the effects of SGLT-2 inhibitors on the reduction of A1C – about 0.3-0.4 percentage points after 52 weeks. This study also used a much lower dose of 2.5 mg, which offered an intermediate effect – lowering A1C by about 0.2 percentage points and reducing body weight by 4 lbs (1.8 kg). Interestingly, there was no difference in DKA with the 2.5 mg dose compared to placebo.

Dr. Mathieu concluded by sharing her “bottom line” on the use of SGLT-2 inhibitors in type 1 diabetes and preventing DKA.

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To learn more about off-label drugs in type 1 diabetes, check out this article from Kerri Sparling.

What Therapies Are Best for People with Type 2 Diabetes at Risk of Heart Disease?

The world of diabetes is now focusing more than ever on preventing diabetes-related health complications. Not only is the treatment of diabetes about blood sugar (measured by A1C or time in range), but it is also about heart health, kidney health, and so much more. In 2019, data from large trials showed that GLP-1 agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors have heart and kidney protection benefits.

As such, experts strongly emphasized using GLP-1 or SGLT-2 drugs for individuals at high-risk for heart attack, stroke, heart failure, or chronic kidney disease. They also named that GLP-1 and SGLT-2 therapies should become more accessible and affordable to people living with diabetes.

Studies have not yet evaluated the heart and kidney health benefits of metformin, compared to those of GLP-1s and SGLT-2s. However, trials have shown that metformin helps lower blood glucose and body weight, comes with a low risk of hypoglycemia, and is cost-effective.

If your healthcare professional has not brought up additional therapy options for you, we recommend you ask them to read this article and discuss your options.

A Debate on the Use of Sulfonylureas in Type 2 Diabetes

Sulfonylureas, or SUs (drugs like glimepiride, glipizide, gliclazide), are a commonly prescribed low-cost drug for people with type 2 diabetes across the world. At ADA 2020, experts Dr. Sophia Zoungas and Dr. Carol Wysham debated the role of SUs in the treatment of type 2 diabetes. While the two endocrinologists differed on how to interpret data from various studies, we came away from the debate with several important take-aways.

Benefits of SUs:

  • Like many other compounds available today, SUs can help lower A1C, especially at the beginning of use in diabetes management.
  • SUs are low-cost and can be an economical method of managing diabetes, at least in the short term.
  • The CAROLINA study demonstrated that sulfonylurea glimepiride is safe for the heart in people with type 2 diabetes.

Challenges of SUs:

  • The CAROLINA study showed that SUs lead to a greater risk of hypoglycemia than other type 2 diabetes medications (not including insulin).
  • All SUs are associated with weight gain, which itself is associated with cardiovascular disease for many people with diabetes.
  • Not all SUs are created equally – each SU might have different health risks, so more research needs to be done on this front.
  • Preventing long-term complications is possible with GLP-1 agonists and SGLT-2 inhibitors – SUs confers no cardioprotective advantages.
  • Without the cost advantage in the short-term, no one would use SUs.
  • Clinical trial investigators are sometimes discouraged from using SUs in major trials, as we understand it.

If you do use an SU, and have experienced hypoglycemia or weight gain, we encourage you to ask your healthcare professional if there is an alternative. To increase safety, we encourage you to check blood sugar as often as you can (or start using a continuous glucose monitoring device, if you can get access – see here if you are on Medicare) to minimize the risk of hypoglycemia.

The Debate on Metformin and Insulin Use During Pregnancy Continues

Traditionally, healthcare professionals have been advised to use insulin to treat pregnant women who have type 2 diabetes or gestational diabetes (GDM). Now, there is debate about whether metformin or other medications are equally effective alternatives to insulin.

Dr. Denice Feig presented data showing that in pregnant women with GDM, metformin use resulted in less maternal weight gain, less preeclampsia (pregnancy-related high blood pressure), lower birth weight, and less neonatal hypoglycemia (low blood sugar). Additionally, there is no evidence that metformin causes any abnormalities in babies, and the drug may reduce insulin resistance in the fetus. During the first trimester of pregnancy, metformin may be a reasonable alternative, if not a first-line treatment equivalent, to insulin. It is also cheaper, easier to use, and poses less of a risk for hypoglycemia (low blood sugar) than insulin.

While the data are promising, both Dr. Feig and Dr. Linda Barbour pointed out that long-term effects on the baby due to exposure to metformin during pregnancy may include a greater risk of being overweight, developing obesity, and having a higher BMI. Unfortunately, the data did not include pregnant women with type 2 diabetes; an ongoing study, MiTy, is currently studying these effects. Both Dr. Feig and Dr. Barbour emphasized that we need more data to decide the best treatment for pregnant women with diabetes – that may well be, and we also hope that better screening is in the works, so that those at risk of gestational diabetes can learn about it earlier and work with their healthcare teams to live with it successfully, which is eminently possible. Learn more about gestational diabetes in our recent article by Cheryl Alkon.

Nutrition, Exercise, and Mindset

New Physical Activity Recommendations for Adults and Children

Dr. Katrina Piercy and Dr. Ronald Sigal presented the 2018 Physical Activity Guidelines for Americans, with updates to the age-specific guidelines and evidence of even more health benefits. These are the recommendations for each age group:

  • Children ages 3-5 should be physically active throughout the day to support their growth, development, and motor skills. Though the US guidelines do not include a specific amount of time, Australia, the United Kingdom, and Canada recommend three hours per day.
  • Children ages 6-17 should do at least 60 minutes a day of moderate or vigorous physical activity.
  • Adults (under age 55) should do at least 150 minutes (2.5 hours) to 300 minutes (5 hours) each week of moderate-intensity activity, or 75 minutes (1 hour and 15 minutes) to 150 minutes (2.5 hours) each week of vigorous-intensity aerobic physical activity. Adults should also do muscle-strengthening activities at least twice a week. We were slightly surprised not to see adults urged to exercise every day like former head of CMS/FDA Dr. David Kessler does in his recent acclaimed book, Fast Carbs, Slow Carbs.
  • Older adults (above age 55) should do the recommended aerobic and muscle-strengthening activities for adults. They should also incorporate balance and functional training, such as standing on one foot or ballroom dancing.

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How do you determine the intensity of exercise? Dr. Piercy recommends the “talk test”: someone doing moderate-intensity aerobic activity can talk, but not sing, during the activity, while a person doing vigorous-intensity activity cannot say more than a few words without pausing for breath.

The speakers noted that while the most health benefits come with at least 150-300 minutes of moderate physical activity per week, any activity is beneficial: any time spent sitting that is swapped out for exercise (even light activity,) can lead to short-term and long-term health benefits. Read more about the guidelines here.

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Diabetes Self-Management Education and Support (DSMES) 2020 Consensus Report Recommendations

A group of educators made a strong case for the greater use of diabetes self-management education and support (DSMES). The benefits are many, including improvements in clinical, behavioral, and psychosocial outcomes, and greater diabetes knowledge and self-care behaviors. Dr. Margaret Powers stressed that compared to other treatments prescribed by healthcare professionals, DSMES and medical nutrition therapy produce few to no negative side effects for people with diabetes and are low cost.

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The experts discussed low DSMES participation rates across the nation and the factors that reduce referrals to diabetes education. Evidence shows that less than 5% of people newly diagnosed with diabetes who have Medicare insurance, and 6.8% of privately insured people with diabetes, have used DSMES services. The 2020 DSMES Consensus Report was created to address these concerns by outlining steps healthcare professionals can take to help people access DSMES services. The report recommends that healthcare professionals make referrals and encourage participation in DSMES at four critical times in someone’s diabetes journey: (1) diagnosis, (2) annually or when not meeting treatment targets, (3) when complicating factors develop, and (4) when transitions in life and care occur. It also suggests that awareness of, and access to, DSMES must be expanded (culturally and geographically), and financial support should be provided for use of DSMES services.

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Food as Medicine! Geisinger’s Fresh Food Farmacy

Michelle Passaretti (Geisinger Health System) presented data on the success of the Fresh Food Farmacy initiative. Fresh Food Farmacy was developed to meet the health needs of people with diabetes in Pennsylvania who do not have access to healthy foods (also known as being food insecure). diaTribe interviewed two leaders from Geisinger in 2018, Dr. Andrea Feinberg and Allison Hess; now, Fresh Food Farmacy has provided 482,219 total meals.

The data speaks to the power of food as medicine! The program participants had a:

  • 2 percentage point reduction in A1C from a baseline of 9%
  • 27% reduction in fasting glucose
  • 13% reduction in cholesterol (including a 9.9% reduction in “bad” LDL cholesterol)
  • 15% reduction in triglycerides

Fresh Food Farmacy also led to increased use of preventive care: flu shots increased by 23%, annual eye exams increased by 17%, and annual foot exams increased by 33%.

Compared to eligible individuals who did not participate, Fresh Food Farmacy participants saw:

  • 49% lower hospital admissions rates
  • 13% decrease in emergency department visits
  • 27% more primary care visits
  • 14% more endocrinologist visits

Participant surveys show significant improvements in quality of life, with 31% of people in the program rating their overall health as very good, compared to just 6% before participation. Additionally, 44% of Fresh Food Farmacy participants now rate their emotional and mental health as very good, compared to just 9% before the program. Passaretti emphasized that Fresh Food Farmacy is not a diet, but a lifestyle change, and that support for the individual’s entire household is necessary for success.

A Sneak Peek into the Film Blood Sugar Rising

Blood Sugar Rising is a film that powerfully articulates the need for a war on diabetes. During this panel moderated by our own Kelly Close, we heard from ADA CEO Tracey Brown, Rise and Root urban farmer Karen Washington, social media influencer and film star Nicole Egerer, film director David Alvarado, and incoming ADA Chief Scientific & Medical Officer Dr. Robert Gabbay.

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Many myths exist in diabetes. One is that if you get diabetes, it is your fault. Blood Sugar Rising dismantles some of these false narratives by showing the complexity of the disease and amplifying diverse voices of people in the diabetes community. Watch the film here if you are in the US and here if you are outside the US.

Tracey Brown ended with a powerful call to action: “What will we do when the burning bush stops burning? We need to move from words into action. We get one point for saying and nine points for doing. Each of us can use our voice, our monetary power, and our ears, and reach across the aisle to collaborate. This is what we need to do to bring diabetes down. We can make it happen, but only together. I’m full up of hope and courage that tomorrow is going to be better than today.”

Lifestyle Interventions for Type 2 Diabetes Remission

In a fascinating session on type 2 diabetes remission, several leaders in the field introduced data on how specific lifestyle interventions (diet and exercise) may help put type 2 diabetes into remission.

Alison Barnes presented data from the DiRECT trial, which focused on low-calorie diets (LCD). The trial compared an intervention group on an LCD (between 800-900 calories per day) to a control group receiving typical diabetes care. Remission was defined as achieving an A1C below 6.5% and stopping all diabetes medications. Results from the DiRECT trial were promising:

  • At one year: 4% remission in control group and 46% remission in the intervention group.
  • At two years: 3% remission in control group and 36% remission in the intervention group.
  • 64% of participants who lost more than 22 lbs (10 kg) were in remission at two years.
  • The intervention group dropped from 75% of participants on diabetes medications at baseline to 40% at two years (compared to 77% at baseline and up to 84% in the control group).
  • Average A1C decreased by 0.6 percentage points in the intervention group at 2 years.
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We thoroughly recommend Dr. Roy Taylor’s book Life Without Diabetes: The Definitive Guide to Understanding and Reversing Type 2 Diabetes – he provides a major connection to the DiRECT trial.

Next Dr. William Yancy spoke on low-carbohydrate diets (classified as less than 130 g carbs per day, with no overall calorie restrictions). In an analysis that compared the effects of nine different diets on glycemic outcomes in type 2 diabetes, the low-carb diet was ranked as the most effective dietary approach for lowering A1C.

Finally, Dr. Kristian Karstoft presented the U-TURN study on how exercise alone, or exercise and diet, may play a role in type 2 diabetes remission. U-TURN had two groups, one receiving standard care and one receiving intensive lifestyle intervention, which included diet and exercise components.

  • After 12 months, 37% of participants in the intervention group stopped using glucose-lowering medication and maintained glucose levels below the criteria for type 2 diabetes (effectively achieving remission).
  • Of the participants who achieved remission, the majority of them came from the group that consistently exercised the most.

The Need for a Personalized Approach to Obesity Treatment

Experts shared the latest data on different treatments for obesity. They focused on three approaches:

1. Lifestyle interventions:

  • The Look AHEAD trial tested whether reducing calories and exercising regularly would lead to diabetes remission. After one year, 11.5% of participants achieved diabetes remission with an average weight loss of 19 pounds (8.6 kilos). After four years, 7.3% of participants were able to maintain remission with an average weight loss of 10 pounds (4.5 kilograms).
  • The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) tested whether calorie restriction alone had an effect on diabetes remission. After one year, 46% of people in this study with type 2 diabetes achieved remission; after two years, 70% of the people who had achieved remission were able to maintain remission.

Participants in Look AHEAD had more advanced diabetes than in DiRECT, leading to the big difference in remission rates. The speakers emphasized that the longer someone has been diagnosed with diabetes, the harder it is to achieve diabetes remission.

2. Obesity medication:

  • Just 2% of people living with obesity are managing the disease with medication. However, many obesity medications can lead to weight loss, prevention of diabetes, and diabetes remission.
  • Combination therapy has shown success for managing obesity and type 2 diabetes. A study testing tirzepatide (a dual GLP-1 and GIP receptor agonist) in people with type 2 diabetes found a 1.7-2% decrease in A1C and an average weight loss of 12 pounds in just 12 weeks.

3. Bariatric surgery:

  • Experts agreed that bariatric surgery should be considered as a treatment option for people with a BMI greater than 35. Bariatric surgery can also lead to sustained weight loss and a decrease in diseases associated with obesity, including sleep apnea and heart disease.
  • It’s clear that obesity treatments must be determined at individual levels – we know that so much more is possible for people with diabetes to reach healthier weights and will be returning to this topic. In the meantime, if changing your weight is of interest, talk to your doctor about how to do this in the best way for you.

How Might Type 1 Diabetes Affect the Gut Microbiome? How Can We Use the Gut Microbiome to Treat Type 1 Diabetes?

Though the science is not yet conclusive, research continues on the relationship between the gut microbiome (made up of all the bacteria that live in the human digestive tract) and type 1 diabetes autoimmunity. Dr. Eric Triplett reviewed studies of the gut microbiome in babies with high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. Three of the studies (DIPP, Babydiet, and DIABIMMUNE) showed an association between the species of bacteria living in the gut and the onset of type 1 diabetes. He then presented a study using data from the general population in Sweden (ABIS), which compared the gut microbiome of children with low, neutral, or high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes. The study found that high genetic risk for type 1 diabetes is associated with changes in the gut microbiome early in life.

Dr. Emma Hamilton-Williams shared unpublished research on the effect of high-fiber dietary supplements on gut microbiome composition and diabetes management in 18 adults with type 1 diabetes. Fibrous food breaks down into short-chain fatty acids (SCFAs) when digested. SCFAs are known to support gut health and regulate the immune system. The study found that the high-fiber supplements affected the species of bacteria living in the gut as well as their function (though these returned to baseline after the diet ended). Participants with better-managed diabetes at baseline had a stronger response to the dietary change – and experienced changes in their glycemic management: A1C levels decreased and less daily insulin was required. Further research on short-chain fatty acid supplements could shed lead on diabetes treatment and prevention.

Real World Stories: Supporting People at Different Stages of Diabetes

Dr. Neesha Ramchandani presented her work on young adults living with diabetes (ages 18 to 30). Through interviews, she found four main challenges: finding a balance between diabetes and life, feeling in control of diabetes, navigating the hidden burden of diabetes within their social circles, and wanting a better connection with their diabetes healthcare professional. One participant said, “Diabetes is like having a full-time job… you can’t 100% turn off. It always has to be a part of your thought process.” diaTribe has resources for teens here.

We then heard from Dr. Della Connor and Dr. Gary Rothenberg on the need to care for people who are living with diabetes post-kidney transplants and post-amputations. In all three talks, the experts emphasized the need to:

  • Build trust and comfort between people with diabetes and healthcare professionals.
  • Incorporate perspectives based on gender, race, and ethnicity into care.
  • Recognize the importance of a team approach, including care-partners.

Access to Care and Policy 

Soda Taxes: Are They Working?

Dr. Lisa Powell (University of Illinois at Chicago) presented compelling evidence in support of sugar-sweetened beverage (SSB) taxes and their ability to reduce soda consumption. Evidence suggests that taxes do reduce the consumption of sugary beverages – a 38 percent reduction in Philadelphia, PA and 21 percent reduction in Seattle, WA, for example – and incentivize soda companies to decrease the amount of sugar in their products, especially when the tax is dependent on the drink’s sugar content. Research also shows that while some consumers replace sodas and sugary drinks with other forms of sugar, such as candy or chocolate milk, the most common substitute is water.

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Image source: diaTribe

Dr. Martin White (University of Cambridge) and Dr. Rafael Meza (University of Michigan) presented promising data on how SSB taxes are working in the United Kingdom and Mexico, respectively. UK consumers overall have been switching to drinks with less sugar and most companies have been reducing levels of sugar in their products; however, taxes have not had a dramatic negative impact on the sugary beverages industry’s revenues overall. Similarly, Dr. Meza showed that Mexico’s overall sugar consumption has decreased since the implementation of the SSB tax, having the largest influence on people who drink lots of sugary drinks, and he noted that the current tax, which is about 10% of the beverage price, would have a significantly larger impact if doubled.

Dr. Powell pointed out that the most effective taxes require careful design. To significantly curb consumption of sodas, the SSB tax should be added into the shelf price, rather than applied at the register, and the tax ought to apply to a broad base of sugary-drinks (including sodas, juices, sports drinks, etc.) to avoid substitutions. Moreover, researchers must be mindful of cross-border shopping – this is when consumers purchase their beverages in places where the SSB tax doesn’t apply. This tax avoidance can heavily impact the effectiveness of the tax: for example, in Philadelphia, PA, consumers buying SSBs outside of Philly reduced the the impact of the tax from a 51% reduction in SSB sales to a 38% reduction.

Effects of Health Policy on Diabetes Care

Professor Rebecca Myerson (from the University of Wisconsin) shared key findings of a study on the impact of Medicaid expansion for people with diabetes:

  • Medicaid prescriptions for insulin increased by about 40%, even with rising insulin prices, meaning that more people with diabetes are receiving treatment.
  • Prescriptions for metformin also increased, suggesting that more people are getting treatment for early-stage diabetes.
  • About one-third of the other prescriptions are for newer medicines (such as SGLT-2 inhibitors and GLP-1 agonists) – promising trends for preventing diabetes complications and saving significant costs down the road.

Dr. Kasia Lipska from Yale School of Medicine discussed the importance of coverage for essential medicines and pre-existing conditions – two health policy issues that are front of mind for many Americans as the November election approaches. In addition to Medicaid expansion, the Affordable Care Act (ACA, or Obamacare) provided coverage for “Essential Health Benefits,” which includes prescription drugs, mental health services, emergency services and hospital care, preventive services and chronic disease management, and more. Dr. Lipska shared a study that found the ACA reduced the percent of income spent on family medical costs for people ages 18-64 with diabetes. This reduction was especially true for people whose family income was in the lowest bracket ($0-34,999 per year).

Income

Image source: diaTribe

Importantly, ACA also prohibited health insurance companies from denying people coverage or charging higher costs to people who have “pre-existing conditions,” including diabetes. Given the significant improvements in coverage and care, Dr. Lipska emphasized that getting rid of the pre-existing conditions provisions would be “a disaster for people with diabetes” – presumably diaTribe readers in the US would agree! Over half of those surveyed were in favor of expanding Medicaid programs in their state – this doesn’t surprise us, since there are so many states that do not have favorable diabetes care programs (for example, see our article on CGM coverage for people on Medicaid; although this was not part of the ACA, many cite it as helping improve care quickly for those that are able to access the benefit). She shared results of a Kaiser Family Foundation survey that emphasized the need for ACA provisions:

ACA

Image source: diaTribe

Whole-Population Interventions Aim to Prevent Type 2 Diabetes

As type 2 diabetes rises in the United States (and around the world), organizations are working to prevent new cases and improve the health and wellness of entire communities. Simon Neuwahl (RTI International) showed models of the benefits of proposed changes, which includied soda taxes, worksite health promotion, and bike lanes. The models suggest that the introduction of these three societal reforms can reduce the rate of type 2 diabetes by 17% over the next ten years. In 2018, 1.4 million people were diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the, US so a 17% decrease would prevent 2.4 million cases over ten years.

There is still a long way to go. The CDC is aiming for the rate of type 2 diabetes to drop by 21% by 2025. The efficacy of some reforms, like the soda tax, are well proven. But, experts like Professor Nicholas Wareham (University of Cambridge, England) believe that no single intervention can make a difference. Decreasing rates of type 2 diabetes will require societal and individual lifestyle reforms.

Thankfully, diverse groups recognize the need for holistic approaches to diabetes prevention. The CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program coordinates with both public and private organizations to connect people with diabetes or prediabetes to lifestyle change resources and programs. Neuwahl’s cost-effective model is adaptable to national, state, and local communities hoping to implement whole-population interventions. Together, his three proposed population-level reforms could directly improve the lives of 2.4 million people.

Source: diabetesdaily.com

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