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Updated 15 February 2013

Diabetics can eat right after using insulin

Type 2 diabetics can eat right after an insulin injection, according to a new study from Germany.

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Type 2 diabetics can eat right after an insulin injection, according to a new study from Germany.

In a study of about 100 diabetics, researchers found that blood sugar levels remained steady regardless of whether or not participants waited 20 to 30 minutes between using insulin and eating a meal. The diabetics overwhelmingly preferred being able to eat right away, too.

"It's a very promising result. It will lead to better adherence and satisfaction," said Dr Aaron Cypess of the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston, who was not involved in the study.

Injectable insulin is available in a newer fast-acting form, but it's expensive and many still use human insulin, which takes some time to become active in the body.

Not all experts think waiting is necessary, though, according to the researchers led by Dr Nicolle Mueller of Universitätsklinikum Jena.

Crossover trial

In a crossover trial, they randomly assigned half their diabetic patients to wait 20 minutes to eat after injecting human insulin, and the other half to eat immediately. After four weeks, the groups switched.

All the participants had generally higher than ideal levels of glycated haemoglobin - but the difference between periods when they waited or didn't wait to eat after insulin injections was a negligible 0.08%.

The participants also reported about the same number of hypoglycaemic episodes between the two time periods, and about 87% said they "significantly preferred" doing away with the 20-minute wait altogether.

"What would I do with a patient who is moderately adherent to what I recommend? I'd say give it a shot," Dr Cypess said,.

"This is really useful, because you get into a problem if people are supposed to take insulin so many minutes before. That's where adherence goes down," he added.

These results may also allow some type 2 diabetics to switch from the fast-acting insulin analogues to the less-expensive human insulin, said Dr Cypess, but he added that more studies would be needed to compare the two.

(Reuters Health, February 2013)

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