Type 2 diabetes prevention, lack of research funding and an eating disorder in type 1 diabetes were some of the main talking points at this year’s Diabetes UK Professional Conference.

More than 2,000 people attended this year’s event, which took place in Manchester across 8-10 March.

The Diabetes UK Professional Conference is an engaging and impactful conference that helps communicate knowledge among doctors and scientists working in the field of diabetes. It is one of the largest healthcare conferences in the UK.

The cream of healthcare professionals involved in diabetes care are brought together at the annual event, which is also attended by researchers, pharmaceutical companies and anybody else with an interest in the condition.

This year Diabetes UK focused on research, spreading the message that for every £1 which is spent on diabetes care, only 0.5p is actually set aside for finding a cure or further treatment.

EndoBarrier research

One of this year’s highlights was the findings of a trial which was focused on a type of treatment called the EndoBarrier.

It is a 60cm plastic sleeve which is inserted into the intestine and supposed to trick the person’s stomach into thinking it is fuller than it actually is.

The research, which was conducted by Birmingham City Hospital, reported the treatment was so successful that six people with type 2 diabetes no longer needed to use insulin.

There were 25 people involved in the study, all of whom lost a significant amount of weight and achieved better blood sugar levels and blood pressure.

The lead clinician, Dr Robert Ryder, said: “We believe this to be an effective and safe service, and one NHS hospitals across the UK could easily take it up.”

Reducing type 2 diabetes rates

There was an update on a national drive which was introduced last year in a bid to drive down type 2 diabetes rates.

Matthew Fagg, the director of the Healthier You: NHS Diabetes Prevention Programme (NHS DPP), told a room of people that the DDP was on course to help delay or prevent up to 18,000 cases of type 2 diabetes over the next five years.

He also stated during his presentation that the initiative is predicted to save the NHS £1.1 billion.

Martin Cassidy, who is the network quality improvement manager for the East Midlands Cardiovascular Disease Network, spoke about his experiences of rolling out the programme in his region.

At the end of February, they had reached 3,000 referrals and he explained that a recent awareness drive called Diabetes Prevention Week, which took place in January, had made a massive difference.

Mr Cassidy said: “The press really took on board the messages we were putting out there.”

Type 1 diabetes and diabulimia

The eating disorder diabulimia was another hot topic during the conference.

It has previously been shown that teenage girls are at a high risk of diabulimia which involves omitting insulin in a bid to lose weight.

For the first time, a study by German researchers showed that 11.2 per cent of teenage boys are skipping insulin too.

Although diabulimia is not a recognised medical or psychiatric term, Diabetes UK has released a Position Statement on the condition, which was unveiled at the conference.

Jacqueline Allan, the founder of the Diabetics with Eating Disorders (DWED) charity which supports people with diabulimia, said she was “very pleased” that the condition was finally getting the recognition it deserved.

Whey protein benefits

Another research finding that got people talking was a Newcastle University trial which showed whey protein could have positive results in controlling type 2 diabetes.

Lead researcher Dr Daniel West from Newcastle University said: “We’ve shown that consuming small amount of whey protein before a meal could help people avoid those high blood glucose levels and may help them to feel more satisfied after mealtimes.”

Other interesting lectures included a debate between doctors about how important the NICE type 1 diabetes guidelines are, and a discussion about the use of an artificial pancreas in pregnant women.

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