Diet barriers in type 2 diabetic patients and their coping strategies

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Background: Factors hindering effective nutritional therapy (diet barriers, DB) in type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM2), their coping strategies and association with biomedical and psychosocial characteristics of the Russian patients have not been studied.

Aim: To identify the role and clinical correlates of DB and diet coping in various categories of patients with DM2.

Materials and methods: This cross-sectional cohort study included 297 consecutively recruited out- and in-patients with DM2 (mean age 61±10.1 years, diabetes duration 1 to 35 years). All patients had standard clinical and laboratory assessments and filled in questionnaires on DB, diet coping, level of knowledge on DM, state/trait anxiety scale, depression scale (modified Zung), Diabetes Treatment Satisfaction questionnaire (DTSQ), Audit of Diabetes-dependent Quality of Life questionnaire (Ru-ADDoQL). Mann-Whitney, chi-square and Fischer's exact test were used for group comparisons. Final analysis was based on multiple and logistic regression models.

Results: Mean (±SD) number of DB per patient was 8.4±4.9 and similar in insulin-treated and non-insulin-treated patients. The most prevalent were DB related to poor physical well-being (51% of the patients), additional financial burden (54%) and decreased food variety (41%). The highest weighted prevalence was identified for 6 DB, such as “difficulties to adhere to the diet in unexpected situations” (1.8 scores), “having to spend a lot for the diet” (1.4), “if I eat not regularly, I feel unwell”, “I cannot eat tasty foods and enjoy them” (1.3  each), “when I  eat more than I  am allowed, I feel unwell”, “I would like to eat what it is not allowed for me” (1.2 each), and “it is difficult to fully abstain from sweets” (1.1). Number of DB per patient increased significantly with age and decreased with higher educational level and social status. There were differences in types of DB between male and female patients, between those currently employed and non-employed, and between highly compliant and non-compliant to their diabetes regimen. There was an inverse correlation between DB numbers and total dietary adherence score, diabetes-dependent quality of life score, subjective assessment of personal health status and a direct correlation between DB number and trait anxiety. No impact of past participation in a diabetes education program or of the level of knowledge on diabetes on DB number was found. For most DB the patients demonstrated the socalled compliant coping (i.e., adherence to the diet recommendations), excluding the DB “I am not allowed to eat when I am hungry”, which was associated mostly with intermediate coping styles that might unfavorably influence one's health status. The compliant diet coping scores were in a weak negative correlation with DB number and with the patient's level of knowledge on diabetes. DTSQ score weakly but significantly correlated with the total score of compliant and intermediate diet coping.

Conclusion: Main DB in DM2 are related to physical discomfort, financial problems and limitations in food choices. Individual DB content depends on age, gender, educational level, social status and employment. Higher numbers of DB per patient is associated with decreased possibility of compliant diet coping style. Overloaded diet recommendations are associated with an increase in DB number that may lead to poorer patient compliance to diabetes treatment in general, as well as to poorer diabetes-dependent quality of life. Elderly patients, as well as those with lower educational level, unemployed, with uncontrolled diabetes, poor general compliance and higher levels of anxiety and depression have the highest DB numbers. Individual DB are to be considered during therapeutic patient education in DM2 and patient-tailored approach to therapy. 

About the authors

E. G. Starostina

Moscow Regional Research and Clinical Institute (MONIKI)

Author for correspondence.

Elena G. Starostina – MD, PhD, Professor, Chair of Endocrinology, Postgraduate Training Faculty,

61/2 Shchepkina ul., Moscow, 129110

+7 (495) 631 73 79

Russian Federation


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