A new study presented at the Annual Meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes has found that adults with diabetes who struggle to afford food are more than twice as likely to experience severe hypoglycemia.
Severe hypoglycemia occurs when blood sugar levels drop to a dangerous level, leading to symptoms such as loss of consciousness, seizures, coma, and in rare cases, death. This condition is primarily a side effect of medication, particularly insulin or secretagogues.
The researchers analyzed data from the US-wide iNPHORM study, which surveyed 1,001 adults with type 1 or type 2 diabetes who had been treated with insulin and/or secretagogues for at least one year. Participants were asked about their experience with food insecurity and the frequency of severe hypoglycemia.
The results showed that around one in five participants reported experiencing food insecurity, and among them, more than half had experienced at least one severe hypoglycemia event in the past year. After adjusting for potential confounders, the researchers found that those who had experienced food insecurity were over twice as likely to have severe hypoglycemia compared to those who were not food insecure.
This study highlights the alarming prevalence of food insecurity among adults with diabetes and its significant impact on the occurrence of severe hypoglycemia. The short-term effects of severe hypoglycemia include dangerous symptoms and accidents, while the long-term effects can result in nerve and heart damage, as well as premature mortality.
The researchers recommend clinicians screen for food insecurity and exercise caution when managing individuals prescribed insulin or secretagogues who are experiencing food insecurity. Public health strategies to address food insecurity are also crucial in preventing severe hypoglycemia and its consequences.
This study emphasizes the importance of reducing the burden of severe hypoglycemia in individuals with diabetes, especially considering the rising cost of living worldwide.