Thank you, International Journal of Pediatrics…

December 2nd, 2010 by Amy Gonsalves Leave a reply »

There was a “first-ever” field study performed on the performance of young athletes with type one diabetes.  The study tried to establish whether sports performance was affected by a low blood glucose or by a high blood glucose.  They monitored the lows the day before a game, hours before it, and during.  The study found no evidence that a prior bout of nocturnal hypoglycemia influences sport skill performance the following day, but they did reach a conclusion about hypoglycemia during an event.

Guess what they found.

Yes indeed they did find that hypoglycemia during a game significantly decreased participants’ sports performance and cognitive abilities.

Not to diminish the work of any of these researchers, but my response to this study and conclusion is (yet again on a type one study of athletic performance): NO DUH. 

I really wonder: do these researchers even know anyone who has lived with type one?  (Not to toot my own horn too loudly, but I could tell them some of this stuff without the need for them to go through a whole study.  Really.  I could even give them data from my meter and my running performance logs.)

It doesn’t surprise me to see that the sports skills they tested were best performed when the athletes were in an acceptable blood glucose range.  The skills did not markedly diminish when the athletes were high, but they tanked when blood glucose was low.

If you’ve ever been high or low or anyplace in between, this should make sense to you, too, no matter what activity is at issue.  Even sitting and working at my desk I can tell you that (most of the time) I work best when my blood glucose is in range, I’m less comfortable when high, and I can’t do a productive thing when I’m low. 

Some of the evidence I’d give the researchers is that of one of my best half marathon finishing times and I know for at least seven of those miles I was pushing 300.  Yet the other day I knew I was low because my mile time was slower than the previous mile’s time. 

I don’t know why they are doing these studies.  I don’t know why they don’t just ASK.  It makes me feel almost like a lab rat or “subject” instead of a regular person.

I mean, I know my diabetes makes me different than the average athlete.  I get that, and I’m in no way wishing to minimize the work involved in exercising with any type of diabetes.  I just wonder why the researchers felt it was important to perform a study when they could have simply asked a type one diabetic.

Nevertheless, their conclusions here are sound:

In summary, we found that hypoglycemia, but not hyperglycemia, impairs sports skill performance and cognitive function in youth with type 1 diabetes. In contrast, prior exposure to hypoglycemia the night before competition does not appear to influence performance the following day. As such, vigilance in glucose control that limits hypoglycemia during sport should maximize competitive capacity in adolescents with type 1 diabetes. In addition, any obvious decrement in sport performance, such as poor passing, failed free throws, serves, and so forth; should be a warning sign to young athletes with diabetes to check for hypoglycemia by monitoring their blood glucose levels and treat hypoglycemia with additional carbohydrate intake.

(And, since I’m railing against the study already, why did they limit this study to “youth” with type one?  Hopefully they limited it so they could publish it in the Journal of Pediatrics and weren’t trying to make any other kind of statement.  Or is there some kind of assumption that us type ones stop being athletes once we turn 18?)

Maybe I should come up with a new slogan: Live. Check. Move.

Be Sociable, Share!

Leave a Reply