Dietary Interventions

Following is a summary of a research titled ‘Primary Prevention of Prediabetes among Omani Young Adults’ by Dr. Mostafa I. Waly and Dr. Ruqaiya Al-Balushi of Food Science and Nutrition Department, CAMS, Sultan Qaboos University.

Prediabetes occurs before the full-blown onset of T2DM, and emerging evidence suggests that adults in a prediabetic stage could be intervened with dietary-based intervention programmes so that progression of T2DM can be arrested or reversed. Recent clinical observations have suggested that there are large numbers of prediabetic people in the Gulf countries, including Oman; however, this previous research has focused solely on clinical populations showing a fully expressed diabetic pathology and with no focus on the impact of dietary-based intervention programmes in the primary prevention of prediabetes among this high risk groups of the adults’ population.

The defining diagnostic feature of T2DM is an abnormal glucose metabolism, categorised as ‘prediabetes’ in its early stage. An individual is considered to be prediabetic if he/she has a blood glucose level that is above normal but below the diagnostic threshold for diabetes mellitus.

Prediabetes produces no symptoms, but it is a major risk factor for developing T2DM and its sequel, which include heart disease, stroke, and retinopathy. It has been estimated that a pre-diabetic person is 5 to 15 times more likely to develop type-2 diabetes mellitus compared to a person with normal blood glucose levels.

There is growing evidence that diet and lifestyle modifications are highly effective in delaying the onset of prediabetes or progression from prediabetes to T2DM, as suggested by recent clinical trials that dietary and lifestyle modifications can delay the onset of T2DM by an average of 11 years and reduce the incidence of new cases of T2DM by 20 percent. It is well-known that the T2DM symptoms such as polyuria, polydipsia and polyphagia, may not be subjectively noted until some of the intransigent and refractory complications of diabetes emerge.

Oman has a very high prevalence of T2DM which is around 10 percent of total population and ranked 8 in the list of the 10 top countries for T2DM prevalence. Although in Oman there is a well-developed health care infrastructure for screening and diagnosis T2DM, yet there is no primary prevention programme for prediabetes. Accordingly, we have initiated a research study among college students at Sultan Qaboos University in order to shed light on biological mechanisms of prediabetes and to design effective preventive interventions for combating the development of prediabetes to a fully diagnosed T2DM latter on life. Our research aims to: (1) determine the impact of nutritional-based interventions on the biochemical profile and nutritional status of prediabetes adults as compared to control healthy subjects, (2) identify novel biochemical markers for early diagnosis and management of prediabetes. Finally, our research represents a promising channel for wide-scale dissemination of T2DM prevention in Oman.

Dr. Ruqaiya Al Balushi, has worked as an Assistant Professor in Clinical Nutrition at the Nutrition & Health Department, United Arab Emirates University (UAEU) and has served as the Assistant Dean for Student Affairs and the Assistant Dean for Professional Development. She received her PhD in Clinical Nutrition from School of Medicine, University of Queensland in 2013. She worked as a clinical Dietician from 2003-2005 and the head of the dietetics department at Royal Hospital in Oman from 2005-2017. She was an active member in the Nutrition Support Committee at Royal Hospital and helped in planning the Enteral Nutrition Support protocols at Royal Hospital. She has a number of publications in peer-reviewed journals and two book chapters. Her main goal is to increase the awareness about the importance of Nutrition in Oman.



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