Type 1 Diabetes: Routine Mealtimes Help Blood Sugar in Kids

Young kids with type 1 diabetes who stick to routine mealtimes and take insulin before eating are more likely to achieve their blood sugar targets than kids who snack, according to new research in BMJ Open Diabetes Research & Care.


Researchers in Newcastle, Australia, looked at medical records from 22 children ages 7 and younger with type 1 diabetes. Their parents filled out a 3-day diary documenting all food and drink eaten, including the type and brand name of the food, the amount of food as measured either on a scale or in food cups, and the preparation method. They also completed a 16-item questionnaire outlining diabetes management routine and eating patterns.

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Ninety-five percent of the children used insulin before meals, and all ate at least three meals daily, with some also eating morning and afternoon snacks. The average nutrient breakdown of their food was 48% carbohydrate, 16% protein, and 33% fat. Approximately 20% of the children were offered food in a “grazing” pattern. None of the children met recommendations for daily consumption of vegetables, and 28% met protein and lean meat recommendations.

No correlation was found between HbA1c (a measure of glucose control over the previous 2–3 months), but HbA1c levels were found to be higher in the children who were allowed to graze throughout the day compared to those who were offered meals at regular times.

“The clinical implications of this are that eating in a routine pattern is associated with lower HbA1c, suggesting that avoidance of grazing or continuous snacking is beneficial to diabetes management in this young age group,” reseacher Rowen Seckold, MBBS, FRACP, told Endocrine Today. “Further research into dietary interventions to improve diet quality in young children is required.”

Want to learn more about parenting a child with type 1 diabetes? Read “The Type 1 Diabetes Diagnosis,” “Type 1 Diabetes and Sleepovers or Field Trips,” “Writing a Section 504 Plan for Diabetes,” and “Top 10 Tips for Better Blood Glucose Control.”

Diane Fennell

Diane Fennell

Senior Digital Editor for DiabetesSelfManagement.com, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.

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