Background and Objectives
Youth with type 1 diabetes do not count carbohydrates (CHOs) accurately, yet it is an important strategy in blood glucose control. The study objective was to determine whether a nutrition education intervention would improve CHO counting accuracy and glycemic control.
Randomized, controlled, nutrition intervention trial recruited February 2009 to February 2010.
Participants and Methods
Youth (12-18 years, n=101) with type 1 diabetes were screened to identify those with poor CHO counting accuracy, using a previously developed CHO counting accuracy test covering commonly consumed foods and beverage items presented in six mixed meals and two snacks. All participants (n=66, age=15 ± 3 yrs, 41 male, diabetes duration=6 ± 4 yrs, HbA1c=8.3 ± 1.1%) were randomized to the control or intervention group at the baseline visit. The intervention group attended a 90 minute class with a RD/CDE and twice kept three-day food records, which were used to review CHO counting progress.
Main Outcome Measures
CHO counting accuracy (measured as described above) and HbA1c were evaluated at baseline and three months to determine the effectiveness of the intervention.
T-tests, Spearman correlations, and repeated measures models were used.
At baseline, CHO content was over and underestimated in 16 and five of 29 food items, respectively. When foods were presented as mixed meals, participants either significantly over or underestimated 10 of the nine meals and four snacks. After three months of follow-up, HbA1c decreased in both the intervention and control groups by −0.19 ± 0.12% (p=0.12) and −0.08 ± 0.11% (p=0.51) respectively; however, the overall intervention effect was not statistically significant for change in HbA1c or CHO counting accuracy.
More intensive intervention may be required to improve adolescents’ CHO counting accuracy and nutrition management of type 1 diabetes. Further research is needed to translate nutrition education into improved health outcomes.