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New physical activity and Type 1 diabetes study

A hi-tech under-the-skin sensor is to be used to monitor blood glucose levels in people with diabetes, in a pioneering new study by Southampton clinicians, funded by Diabetes UK.

Diabetes experts at Southampton General Hospital will fit the tiny devices (pictured) to participants' stomachs and use them in conjunction with watch-like armbands, which will check participants' physical activity levels.

The purpose of the study

The trial will study how much of an impact physical activity has on blood glucose levels while also taking diet and insulin intake into account.

Nearly 300 readings a day

Thirty volunteers aged between 18 and 75 will be supplied with a glucose sensor and armband. The sensor consists of a tiny electrode, which is inserted under the skin and can take nearly 300 readings a day. This connects to a transmitter, which is attached to the skin with an adhesive patch.

Meanwhile, the physical activity armband will be worn for two blocks of two weeks during the 12-month study to record continuous data, which can then be downloaded electronically.

A better understanding

"At the moment, it is uncertain how day-to-day variation in physical activity influences blood glucose in people with Type 1 diabetes," said Professor Christopher Byrne, Head of Endocrinology and Metabolism at Southampton University Hospitals NHS Trust, said:

"But thanks to the introduction of sophisticated, light, user-friendly monitoring devices, such as the two we are trialling, we will gauge a better understanding of the link between physical activity and glucose control in diabetes."

Diabetes UK pleased to fund this research

Dr Victoria King, Research Manager at Diabetes UK, added: “Diabetes UK is really pleased to be funding this research, as currently the relationship between physical activity, energy expenditure and blood glucose levels in people with Type 1 diabetes is not fully understood.

“Physical activity is an essential part of managing Type 1 diabetes and protecting against the serious complications of the condition such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.

"We hope that this study will equip people with Type 1 diabetes with the information they need to make pragmatic decisions about physical activity and how it is likely to affect their blood glucose control. This in turn will help to protect both their short- and long-term health.”

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