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University researchers study link between diabetes, lifestyle changes

DiabetesA group of researchers from a slew of different departments within the University of Virginia are conducting a type 2 diabetes study investigating whether lifestyle changes can be more effective at treating the disease than the medication.

The program — Glycemic Load, Exercise and Blood Glucose — differs from other studies in that it focuses on four main principles: safety, simplicity, satisfaction and sustainability, Nursing Prof. Ann Gill Taylor said in an email.

“[This is] an approach that we believe can avoid spikes in their blood glucose level and improve the use of insulin in their bodies,” Taylor said. “The focus of the study is education — informing the participants about healthy and safe lifelong lifestyle changes.”

While the current pool of participants is relatively small, the researchers hope to expand the number of participants to 50 soon. Participants must be between the ages of 24 and 70, have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes in the past year, cannot be currently taking any medication.

Initial screening takes place in-person or by phone, followed by a secondary screening conducted in the Behavioral Medicine Center. Psychiatry Prof. Dr. Daniel Cox, the director of the Center for Behavioral Medicine Research, said participants receive free diabetes care supplies for the 15 weeks they are monitored, comprehensive blood test analyses and $100 at the end of the study.

Once the participants are admitted into the study, they are assigned randomly to the “behavior modification” group or the “usual care” group. They will then go through a physical exam, a number of blood tests and periodical questionnaires in order to complete the process.

“Participants in the behavioral modification group will learn about their disease and its management, be motivated through what they are learning to reduce their sedentary behaviors and increase their activity to a moderate level,” Taylor said. “All with the goal of managing their type 2 diabetes mellitus without medication.”

McCall said the study has been running for about a month so far and the process will take a number of years.

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