Researchers at the John Hunter Children's Hospital in Newcastle
have concluded that young children with type 1 diabetes are eating
too many snacks and not enough vegetables.
In a report in The Limbic, a study of 3-day food diaries from 24
children found the macronutrient composition of their diet - 48%
carbohydrate, 16% protein and 33% fat - was within recommended
However, their saturated fat at 15% of daily energy intake
exceeded the ISPAD (International Society for Paediatric ad
Adolescent Diabetes) recommendation of <10%.
Too many high-fat snacks
It was largely coming from snacks and processed meats such as
sausages and bacon.
Importantly, no child consumed the recommended 2.5 serves of
vegetables per day. Some children ate no vegetables at all.
"The most commonly eaten foods across the group were apple,
banana, strawberries, cheese, full-cream milk, fruit yoghurt, white
bread, sweet biscuits and ice cream," the study authors said.
HbA1c was found to be higher in children who ate in a grazing
pattern than the majority who ate three main meals and one or two
snacks per day.
Most children were receiving pre-prandial insulin either
directly before or 15 minutes before their meals.
Co-author of the study and dietician Dr Carmel Smart said the
children were not doing any worse when it came to their nutrition
than the general population.
"People are now used to taking foods like cherry tomatoes to
work. But even two years ago, no one was eating adequate serves of
vegetables as adults. The recommended serves of vegetables are high
for many people."
Meal routine important
However, the findings reinforced the importance of routines
around meals for children with diabetes to allow for pre-prandial
administration of insulin and optimal glycaemic control.
Dr Smart said some parents apparently thought it was impossible
to restrict children's eating to meal times - exposing their
children with diabetes to continual post-prandial highs.
"People do it [routines] in childcare but parents often give the
message to toddlers that they can eat as much as they want,
whenever they want."
She said healthy foods like vegetables should be offered earlier
in the day and not left until the evening meal when children and
parents were tired.
"What was interesting was it [their diet] wasn't any different
from the dietary habits of the general population. People give kids
fruit because they know they are going to eat it but they struggle
to serve veggies across the board."
She said their results were consistent with those of other
The findings are published in BMJ Open Diabetes Research and