Social distancing may disrupt blood sugar control in elderly diabetics: Study
Korea: A recent study has pointed out that social distancing (SD) may negatively affect diabetes management in older adults with diabetes. According to the study, there was an increase in fasting blood sugar and HbA1c levels and body weight during the social distancing (SD) era. Further, people with less physical activity gained more weight and had higher blood sugar levels. The study findings appear in Diabetes & Metabolism journal.
Social distancing has been implemented in various parts of the world to prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19). Older adults (aged ≥70 years) with comorbidities such as diabetes are at highest risk of mortality and adverse outcomes caused by COVID-19. This era of COVID-19 pandemic pose a great challenge to this population with varying levels of frailty, complexity, and multimorbidity as their normal routine have been disrupted while respecting the measures of social distancing.
Against the above background, Soo Myoung Shin, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seongnam, Korea, and colleagues recruited adults aged d 60 to 90 years with type 2 diabetes mellitus who were physically and mentally independent. Participants who had complete blood chemistry data from April to July 2019 (pre-SD era) and April to July 2020 (SD era) were enrolled.
Data were obtained about physical activity, nutrition, sarcopenia, and psychological and mental health from questionnaires in April to July 2020. Calf circumference was measured.
A total of 246 people (100 men, 146 women; mean age, 73.8±5.7 years) participated in the study.
The study yielded the following findings:
- The levels of glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c, 7.4%±1.0% vs. 7.1%±0.8%), fasting glucose (142.2±16.7 mg/dL vs. 132.0±27.7 mg/dL), and body weight (62.6±9.4 kg vs. 61.8±10.1 kg) were higher in the SD era than in the pre-SD era.
- Total physical activity was lower in the SD era (2,584.6±2,624.1 MET-min/week-1 vs. 1,987.3±2,295.0 MET-min/week-1).
- A larger increase in HbA1c level was associated with increased body weight and decreased physical activity.
"Our findings showed that social distancing (SD) had negative effects on diabetes management in older adults with diabetes. Fasting glucose and HbA1c levels and body weight increased during the SD era. Participants with reduced physical activity gained more weight and had higher blood glucose levels," wrote the authors.
"Given that the COVID-19 pandemic is ongoing, health professionals and diabetes educators should monitor changes in lifestyle factors in older adults with diabetes," they concluded.
The study titled, "Effects of Social Distancing on Diabetes Management in Older Adults during COVID-19 Pandemic," is published in the journal Diabetes & Metabolism.