Youngsters with type 1 diabetes who follow a routine eating pattern and administer insulin before meals have a greater chance of meeting HbA1c targets, researchers suggest.
The findings indicate that children who stick to a schedule and do not regularly snack experienced improved diabetes management.
Australian researchers tracked the eating habits of 22 children aged seven years or younger who all had type 1 diabetes, 95% of whom used preprandial insulin, which refers to insulin administered before breakfast, lunch or dinner.
Parents recorded their child’s dietary intake over three days in food diaries and the research team used specialist software to analyse total energy and amount of nutrients consumed. Detailed questionnaires covering their diabetes self-management routines were also competed.
While all of the participants ate three meals every day, 81% snacked in mornings and afternoons. The researchers observed that HbA1c was higher on average (7.7%) in those participants who grazed on snacks compared with children who just ate regular meals (6.1%).
No relation between HbA1c and total carbohydrate, protein or fat intake was observed, however.
“Very young children with type 1 diabetes can achieve target HbA1c if they follow a routine pattern of eating and use preprandial insulin dosing. However, fruit and vegetable intake remains a concern in this young age group,” said study author Rowen Seckold, from John Hunter Children’s Hospital based in New South Wales.
“The clinical implications of this are that eating in a routine pattern is associated with lower HbA1c, suggesting that avoidance of grazing or continuous snacking is beneficial to diabetes management in this young age group. Further research into dietary interventions to improve diet quality in young children is required.”
The study was published in the journal BMJ Open Diabetes Research &Care.