When it comes to managing weight, challenges faced by adolescents with Type 1 diabetes (T1D) are compounded in young adulthood and influence the habits they form as they get older. This is according to new findings from a research team lead by Elizabeth Mayer-Davis, PhD, Cary C. Boshamer Distinguished Professor of nutrition and medicine at the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health.
The study, “The interplay of type 1 diabetes and weight management: A qualitative study exploring thematic progression from adolescence to young adulthood,” was published in the November issue of Pediatric Diabetes.
Diabetes puts adolescents at risk of cardiovascular disease, among other complications. Being overweight or obese carries a similar risk of cardiovascular disease. This emerging problem was the inspiration for examining potential interventions around treatments for weight and diet.
Mayer-Davis and her team – which included doctoral scholars Daria Igudesman, Anna Kahkoska, Franklin Muntis and clinical research assistant Katherine Souris from the Gillings School – recognized that the dual burden of managing weight and blood sugar made it difficult for adolescents to adopt best practices for co-managing the two. Building off a prior study on weight and blood sugar co-management in children with T1D aged 12-17, Mayer-Davis and co-authors analyzed experiences of young adults with T1D aged 18-25 to identify themes that evolved between the two demographics.
Controlling blood sugar and weight can be an arduous task for adolescents with T1D. The level of sugar bound to hemoglobin in the blood (hemoglobin A1c) increases during this age range and remains elevated until around age 30. Adolescence is also the time when children establish habits for self-care and weight management that persist into adulthood.
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