Radical Approach to Type 2 Diabetes Wins NIH Study Funds

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Cox’s approach, called Glucose Everyday Matters, or GEM, aims to prevent blood sugar spikes via educated food and drink selection. This is coupled with physical activity to hasten recovery when blood-sugar spikes do occur. So someone might indulge in a piece of fruit or a small, sweet treat, knowing how it will affect them, and then go for an evening stroll to help even out their blood sugar.

The approach showed promise in a small initial trial. Seventeen adults recently diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes tested the program in combination with continuous glucose monitoring. They also received text messages to help them stay on track. After three months, 67% were in remission and only one participant needed to begin medication.

Previous studies had evaluated the program delivered face-to-face by medical providers, but the pilot clinical trial was the first time it had been tested when self-administered. Participants did not have to come in for the intervention; instead, they just received a couple of calls from the researchers and followed a treatment manual.

Cox’s latest study will build on the prior research to determine at a larger and longer scale if it offers a safe and effective new tool for managing Type 2 diabetes among those recently diagnosed. The randomized clinical trial will enroll 200 people in Virginia and Colorado and assess, over five years, whether the GEM program helps them better control their blood sugar and reduces their need for medication. The trial will also compare the cost of GEM with other options and evaluate whether the program has additional benefits, such as weight loss and decreased depression symptoms.

“It’s an exciting time for people with Type 2 diabetes, with both new medications and new lifestyle interventions to improve the control of diabetes, giving patients many new options. Lifestyle interventions have the advantage of being able to put diabetes in remission,” Cox said. “GEM is a one-time, brief, six-week intervention that impacts a lifelong lifestyle.”

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