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Impact of COVID-19 lockdown on glycemic control in children and adolescents

January 6, 2021
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Many (or all) of us are becoming burnt out from the pandemic and all of the changes in our normal habits and schedules. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought various stages of lockdown to different parts of the world, and in some places it was shown to improve blood glucose control (such as in Spain.)  But a new article out of Saudi Arabia showed that lockdown for teens and adolescents between April and June 2020 actually made glucose control for people with diabetes there worse.

The study looked at 150 patients, with the average age was about 12 ½ years old, and researchers saw that lockdown caused an increase in weight and blood glucose control. The study found that 66% of the patients had a large drop in physical activity due to the lockdown, and 46% had an increase in consumption of fast food and carbohydrates.

This is the opposite of what they found in Spain, in which 50 adults with diabetes using flash continuous glucose monitors (CGMs). This study found that the average glucose dropped from 160 to 150 and the Time in Range increased from 57% to 65% on average. Another study out of France looked at 1,378 adults with type 1 diabetes using flash CGM had a decrease in average blood sugar and what they call “easier diabetes control perception” (p1).

This goes to show a couple of things: first, science is not always black and white, much like diabetes. Even in science, things change and evolve, and more information sometimes changes recommendations. (Remember in the beginning of the pandemic, when it was not recommended to wear masks at all?  Now, after more research,  people are strongly encouraged to wear masks to slow the spread of the disease.) Second, the study from Spain and the study from Saudi Arabia show that different populations react differently to lockdown.

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Written and clinically reviewed by Marissa Town, RN, BSN, CDCES