Friday, February 26, 2021

HbA1c May be Superior to FBG in Diagnosing Prediabetes

 FPG (fasting plasma glucose), HbA1c, and the OGTT (oral glucose tolerance test) are used in determining if someone has prediabetes or diabetes. Indeed, all three measures are employed by the National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) to determine eligibility for the National DPP. So, these blood based tests are important, and understanding which one of the three measurements is the most valid in assessing prediabetes and diabetes is a worthwhile undertaking. One recent study has focused on determining the validity of the measurements.

The OGTT is considered by some to be the gold standard for diagnosing diabetes and prediabetes. However, it is not always practical to perform the test, and results are not always reproducible. Therefore, while the OGTT is considered to be more accurate for some high risk patients than the HbA1c test, the HbA1c test is widely used since it is more practical and it is considered to be a valid test. So, determining how the test stacks up against the FPG test is high on the priority list.

In the above mentioned study, 201 patients were looked at. And the investigators concluded that “HbA1c is a more sensitive test compared to FPG in the diagnosis of DM. Prospective studies with broad participation at national and international levels are needed to redefine HbA1c cut-off points for the diagnosis of DM and prediabetes." When this is done, "it will be possible to revise the diagnostic guidelines accordingly.”

While work needs to be done in the area of defining the cut-off points for HbA1c to improve the diagnostic value of the measurement, the above study does seem to indicate that engaging in additional research to define the Hba1c cut-off points is worth the effort.

Healthcare providers should pay attention to this study and other studies related to diabetes and prediabetes measurements. If we can increase the validity of the measurements already in place, this will lead to improved assessment of prediabetes and diabetes. This endeavor will help providers deliver more accurate assessments to patients, enabling patients to take the appropriate actions.

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Thursday, February 25, 2021

The Green Mediterranean Diet

During the 1960s, countries such as Italy and Greece followed the diet that has become known as the Mediterranean diet. And people in Mediterranean countries that followed the diet were very healthy compared to Americans who follow common American diets. The Mediterranean diet has been found to improve health and lower premature death. Further, a recent study found that a modified version of the diet, called the green Mediterranean diet, may be healthier.

The Mediterranean diet consists mostly of fruits, vegetables, whole foods, and a moderate amount of meat products, including cheese, poultry and eggs. There is also very infrequent use of red meat, and no use of sugar sweetened beverages or processed foods.

The green Mediterranean diet is not substantially different from the original Mediterranean diet. It essentially replaces the red meat with plant protein, and reduces the amount of all animal protein. A person replaces the animal protein with things like quinoa, soy milk and other sources of protein.

In the study mentioned above, participants were assigned to three groups. One of the groups was the healthy diet guidance (HDG) group; another group was the Mediterranean diet group, and the other group was the green Mediterranean diet group. In the study, all three of the diets were combined with physical activity. After six months, participants in the Mediterranean and the green Mediterranean diet groups had similar weight loss.

However, participants in the green Mediterranean group had greater improvement in the cholesterol, diastolic blood pressure, insulin resistance, and other metabolic parameters. The researchers concluded that “the green MED diet, supplemented with walnuts, green tea and Mankai and lower [helpings of meat and poultry] may amplify the beneficial cardio metabolic effects of Mediterranean diet.”

It appears that while the Mediterranean diet is a very healthy diet, the green Mediterranean diet, which is more plant-based with increased intake of plants that are heavy in protein, may be even healthier. Healthcare providers should consider the green Mediterranean diet when counseling patients.

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Monday, January 25, 2021

Superiority of Lifestyle Intervention for Weight Loss in a Group Setting

The CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) uses group sessions to deliver the prevention program. The primary goal of the group sessions is weight loss. The desired outcome is delaying or preventing diabetes. The National DPP is based on the diabetes prevention study in which the coaches met one-on-one with each study participant. The results were that intensive lifestyle intervention, focusing on weight loss, lowered the risk of diabetes by 58%.

However, researchers felt that the program was not sustainable, because the cost to deliver the program was too high. So, the program was modified so that it could be delivered in a group setting, which is how the current National DPP is delivered. But some may still question the group delivery approach.

The original Diabetes Prevention Program study ended in 2001. And for several years after the end of the study, translational research was done to determine if the original DPP study's one-on-one lifestyle intervention could be effective in a group setting. One of the translational investigations was done by researchers at the Indiana University School of Medicine.

The researchers concluded that using weight loss as the goal in lifestyle intervention could indeed be effective in a group setting. Participants in the lifestyle intervention group lost 6% of their weight compared to 2% for the participants in the control group.

And a more recent study has, again, demonstrated the effectiveness of lifestyle intervention in a group setting. In fact, the researchers suggested that group lifestyle intervention is actually superior to one-on-one delivery for weight loss. According to the researchers, “Group multi-component lifestyle interventions are superior for weight loss compared to one-to-one interventions with respect to adult weight management.”

So, providers should consider group settings for weight loss and weight maintenance. The providers should also consider group settings for other chronic disease treatments. The actions could increase patient health. 

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Sunday, January 24, 2021

Diet Can Cause an Increase in Ghrelin

Ghrelin is sometimes called the  hunger gene. It is called the hunger gene because it plays a large role in regulating appetite. The hormone is produced in the gastrointestinal system -- mainly in the stomach. Ghrelin can cause feelings of hunger and fullness, and it can cause our bodies to store fat. In fact, controlling ghrelin in our body and the ghrelin production  can enable us to lose weight and maintain weight loss.

Ghrelin is very important in weight management. And one study has shown that weight loss resulting from diet can cause an increase in ghrelin, thereby, producing weight regain. It has been known for some time that one of the reasons that some types of weight loss surgery are effective is because the surgeries reduce the size of the stomach, limiting the production of ghrelin. But anything that increases ghrelin may cause weight gain.

The ghrelin-related study was a post hoc analysis, associated with a study called the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial or DiRECT. The study was done in Scotland. The aim of the DIRECT was to “assess the effect of weight loss on type 2 diabetes remission.” The aim of the post hoc analysis was to “To investigate whether appetite-related hormones were predictors of weight regain in the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT)." In the post hoc analysis, the researchers looked at the hormones leptin, ghrelin, GLP-1 and PYY. The researchers looked at these hormones at baseline, and at 5, 12 and 24 months.

For the post hoc analysis, 253 participants were included. The intervention group consisted of 144 participants and the control group consisted of 99 participants. The researchers concluded that “the rise in ghrelin (but not any other measured hormone) during the diet -induced weight loss was a predictor of weight regain during follow-up, and concentrations remain elevated over time, suggested a small but significant compensatory drive to regain weight. Attenuating the effects of ghrelin may improve [weight-loss maintenance].”

These are important findings, and, again, the findings confirm the role that ghrelin plays in weight loss and weight gain. Further, by finding ways to lower the amount of ghrelin in our bodies, we stand a good chance of losing weight and maintaining weight loss.

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Tuesday, December 29, 2020

Prediabetes and Cardiac Autonomic Neuropathy

Prediabetes is a condition where an individual has abnormally high blood glucose, while not high enough to be diagnosed as diabetes. Prediabetes can cause heart and kidney problems. Cardiac autonomic neuropathy (CAN) may be defined as “the impairment of autonomic control of the cardiovascular system.” While the condition is frequently not given much focus, CAN is frequently associated with type 1 and type 2 diabetes. CAN may also be associated with heart problems and mortality. Further, at least one recent study has concluded that CAN is also associated with prediabetes.

The investigators involved in the study did a search, electronically, to find individuals, in other studies, with prediabetes, normal glucose and type 2 diabetes. The researchers searched the following databases: Medline, MBASE, Pubmed, Web of science, Scopus and Cochrane.

As a result of the database search, the researchers found 4431 participants who satisfied the analysis’ inclusion criteria. The participants included 1730 individuals with prediabetes. There were 1999 individuals who had normal glucose. And there were 702 individuals with type 2 diabetes. And there was a higher than normal number of individuals experiencing CAN.

Further, the researcher concluded that “There [was] a higher than expected prevalence of CAN in prediabetes. Early detection of CAN in prediabetes through population screening needs careful consideration in view of the excess morbidity and mortality risk associated with this condition.”

The above study underlines the importance of diagnosing prediabetes. And once prediabetes is diagnosed, screening for other known prediabetes comorbidities should then occur -- including screening for CAN. Providers should make it a point to screen for prediabetes. The providers should counsel patients who do have predicates on how to lower the chances of getting type 2 diabetes. The providers should then advise the patients on other prediabetes-associated conditions. This can benefit a patient by potentially improving the patient’s health.

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Friday, December 25, 2020

Obesity Plays a Role in COVID-19

Obesity is a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. The disease is known to be associated with certain types of cancer, including breast and colon cancer. And the disease is known to be associated with diabetes and heart disease. With respect to COVID-19, researchers have concluded that obesity plays a role in the virus. Obesity can be associated with mortality in those with COVID-19. Further, overweight/obesity can be a factor in COVID-19 related pneumonia.

One study, in the form of a meta-analysis, indicated that those suffering from COVID-19 have poor outcomes when they are obese. The researchers did a scientific literature search for COVID-19 related studies. Included in the database search were the following databases: Pubmed, EMBASE, Google, Google scholar, Springer, Elsevier, the Lancet, and Oxford journals. The researchers used keywords and phrases such as COVID-19 and "obesity mortality during COVID-19." After excluding studies that didn’t satisfy their inclusion criteria, the researchers chose 14 studies for the analysis. “The primary objective of [the] study was to find out the effect of overweight or obesity on patients suffering from COVID-19.”

The researchers concluded that “patients with obesity are at high risk of mortality from COVID-19 infection.” Further, the results of the study indicated that age and gender are “significantly associated with COVID-19 mortality.”

Another study, performed in Germany, looked at the Association between COVID-19 and pneumonia and overweight/obese subjects. The researcher used survey results for the analysis. The researchers focused on people with a history of COVID-19 who were 18 years or older. All participants in the study had to be diagnosed using PCR (polymerase chain reaction) or a retrospective antibody test. There were 220 participants in the survey, and 204 of the participants had experienced COVID-19.

And the researchers concluded that there is “an association of overweight/obesity with signs of pneumonia in COVID-19.” The researchers went on to say that the possible association between overweight/obesity, COVID-19 and pneumonia “should be investigated further to possibly reduce the proportion of severe cases of COVID-19.”

The above studies show that obesity is negatively associated with COVID-19, just as obesity is negatively associated with cancer, diabetes, heart disease and other conditions. Treating obesity and overweight should be a part of a patient's overall treatment protocol.

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Friday, November 27, 2020

Elements of the Original Diabetes Prevention Program Study are Used in Other Diabetes Prevention Studies

The CDC’s National Diabetes Prevention Program (National DPP) is considered, by some, to be the “gold standard” for behavioral lifestyle intervention. The program is based on the landmark Diabetes Prevention Program study that was led by the NIH during 1996 to 2001. 

The study created an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) method that successfully lowered the risk of type 2 diabetes by 58%. The ILI approach consisted of 16 weekly sessions during the first six months of the study, followed by monthly contacts for the remainder of the study. There were in-person contact sessions at least every two months. The study was the basis for the CDC’s National DPP. And elements similar to those used in the original DPP intervention have been employed in other diabetes prevention studies.

One such recent study compared two weight-maintenance diets to determine which diet would cause a decrease in type 2 diabetes cases. The study lasted three years, and the study used an approach similar to the National DPP, consisting of an initial phase and a follow-on phase. The initial phase involved eight weeks of weight reduction, while the follow-on phase was a three year maintenance period. There were 2326 adult participants in the study. All of the participants had a BMI that was greater than or equal to 25. The primary outcome was type 2 diabetes.

The researchers concluded that the diets were not significant in reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes. However, “the overall protocol combining weight loss, healthy eating, and physical activity was successful in markedly reducing the risk of T2D.” The results showed that the type 2 diabetes "incidence in both [diet] groups was less than one third of predicted incidence."

Just as the original DPP study demonstrated, the above study indicated that establishing an initial phase focusing on a weight loss approach that includes diet and physical activity, followed by a maintenance phase, can lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

Providers should adopt appropriate elements of the DPP program when treating patients who are at high risk for type 2 diabetes. Further, providers should consider including DPP techniques in treatment protocols for other chronic diseases. The DPP intensive lifestyle intervention is patient-centered, evidence-based, and can, in many cases, be less costly than other approaches to chronic disease treatments.

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