Clinical Trial Reveals Modest Impact of Nutrition Program on Diabetes Treatment

Clinical Trial Reveals Modest Impact of Nutrition Program on Diabetes Treatment

A pioneering healthcare program designed to address diabetes through improved nutrition has shown only a modest impact, according to the first fully randomized clinical trial. Co-authored by MIT health care economist Joseph Doyle from the MIT Sloan School of Management, the study focused on an innovative initiative providing healthy meals to tackle both diabetes and food insecurity simultaneously, particularly targeting Type 2 diabetes.

The program involved participants with elevated blood sugar levels, specifically an HbA1c hemoglobin level of 8.0 or higher. In the randomized clinical trial, individuals with ingredients to create 10 nutritious meals per week experienced a decline in hemoglobin A1c levels by 1.5 percentage points over six months. In contrast, participants without access to such food experienced a comparable reduction of 1.3 percentage points over the same period. This suggests that while the program did lead to a decrease in blood sugar levels, the relative effects were limited.

MIT Sloan’s Joseph Doyle emphasizes that this study should not be the final word on such interventions, as clinical trials on these efforts have been scarce. He hopes this research sparks further investigations to identify more impactful methods. Additionally, programs like this address food insecurity, a significant issue for individuals lacking access to healthy food.

The study, “Effect of an Intensive Food-as-Medicine Program on Health and Health Care Use: A Randomized Clinical Trial,” was published in JAMA Internal Medicine. The research team collaborated with a large healthcare provider in the Mid-Atlantic region that has developed food-as-medicine programs. The trial involved 465 adults with Type 2 diabetes in urban and rural settings, from 2019 through 2022 with a year of follow-up testing.

Despite high adherence to the program, the study’s results prompt questions about why the food intervention did not have a more significant relative impact. Potential factors include the basic reversion to the mean, the positive effects of medical engagement with the control group, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic during the study, or the potential for intervention effects to manifest over a more extended timeframe.

Doyle suggests that providing premade meals is a natural next step in refining the approach. While the current study raises questions, it underscores the need for continued research on food-as-medicine programs targeting diabetes, especially as they evolve with different formats and features.

TechGolly editorial team led by Al Mahmud Al Mamun. He worked as an Editor-in-Chief at a world-leading professional research Magazine. Rasel Hossain and Enamul Kabir are supporting as Managing Editor. Our team is intercorporate with technologists, researchers, and technology writers. We have substantial knowledge and background in Information Technology (IT), Artificial Intelligence (AI), and Embedded Technology.

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