Implementing and evaluating a weight reduction program for diabetic patients at a primary health care facility in the Western Cape

Master Thesis


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University of Cape Town

Background: Diabetes is now the most common non-communicable disease globally and complications are resulting in increased disability, reduced life expectancy and enormous health costs for virtually every society. Medical Nutrition Therapy is important for the prevention, treatment, self-management of diabetes and the prevention or delay in onset of diabetes-related complications. The current nutritional guidelines for DM states that carbohydrates should make up 45-60% of the total nutritional intake and that low carbohydrate or high protein diets offer no long term success over healthy eating plans. Recent studies suggest that there may be merit in using low carbohydrate diets in diabetic patients. Aim and Objectives: The study aimed to implement and evaluate a program for weight loss in Diabetes Mellitus type 2 patients by comparing a Low carbohydrate diet to the conventional low fat diet. Changes in weight, waist circumference, blood pressure and blood parameters (creatinine, lipids and HbA1c) were recorded in both groups. Methods: The study design was that of a two group randomised parallel design, with one group following a low fat diet and the other a low carbohydrate diet. Both groups received advice on exercise and behaviour change. Clinical parameters were recorded at week 0 (baseline) and week 12 of the program. Patients were invited to participate in the study using leaflets, posters and via staff. A total of 10 patients per group were identified and followed. Results: Significant reductions were seen in weight loss and Hba1c in the Low Carbohydrate diet group which was not evident in the Low fat diet group. No significant change was seen in other parameters including BP, total cholesterol and serum creatinine for either group. Conclusion: Low Carbohydrate diets are effective in promoting weight loss and glucose control in diabetic patients. More research is recommended to assess patient's experience of following a low carbohydrate diet. Recommendations include training staff at facilities in our Sub-District on understanding and implementing Low Carbohydrate diets.