Diabetes study

Diabetes sufferer Ronnie Maher and Ffion Curtis from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science.

Diabetes sufferer Ronnie Maher and Ffion Curtis from the Department of Sport and Exercise Science.

08 February 2012

People living in mid and west Wales are being invited to contribute to an important new study into diabetes which is being undertaken at Aberystwyth University.

Researchers at the University’s Department of Sport and Exercise Science are looking for 150 volunteers who are willing to take part in the study into the relationship between vitamin D deficiency and type 2 diabetes.

They are keen to recruit volunteers who don’t have type 2 diabetes as well as those who do.

The volunteers will be required to visit the department three times over a period of 12 months to provide a blood sample and answer questions about diet and lifestyle.

There is an increasing body of research that suggests a link between low levels of vitamin D, caused by a lack of sunlight, and a number of other medical conditions.

As recently as the end of January the Chief Medical Officer for England voiced concern at the rise in childhood rickets caused by lack of vitamin D. Other research has suggested a link with Multiple Sclerosis, depression, type 1 diabetes and cardiovascular disease.

The aim of the Aberystwyth study will be to establish whether there is a link between low levels of vitamin D and type 2 diabetes.

The study is being undertaken by Ffion Curtis, a member of the Physical Activity in Ageing, Rehabilitation and Health research group at Aberystwyth University.

“The number of people who suffer from type 2 diabetes is increasing dramatically world-wide. At the same time people’s lifestyles are changing; they are spending less time out in the open and as a consequence see less sunlight which is essential to synthesise vitamin D, or the sunshine vitamin as it is also known,” said Ffion.

“The aim of our study is to establish whether the lack of vitamin D is leading to more people developing this form of diabetes. If this proves to be the case it may then be possible to advise people who have type 2 diabetes on how they can manage the condition without medication, possibly by taking vitamin supplements or eating foods that are high in vitamin D, and for those at risk to avoid developing it in the first place”, she added.

One of the first to sign up for the study is Ronnie Maher who lives in Llanrhystud. Ronnie was diagnosed with type 2 diabetes four years ago and was encouraged to join the study by his family doctor.

“It’s great to be able to take part in this study. It only takes half an hour but it’s time that could really make a difference,” said Ronnie.

“It was only after being diagnosed that I really became aware of how many people suffered from type 2 diabetes and it’s really important to me that we raise awareness of what causes it. Taking part in this study is my way of helping researchers to understand more about the condition and hopefully this will benefit my children and my grandchildren’s generations.”

The study is funded by the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) scheme supported by the European Social Fund through the Welsh Government’s Convergence programme and the team are working closely with Dr Sam Rice, Diabetes Consultant at the Hywel Dda Health Board.

If you would like to volunteer for the study, contact Ffion Curtis on 01970 622070 or by e-mail fic7@aber.ac.uk. More information is also available online at http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/sport-exercise/research/health/diabetes/vitamind/.

(Source http://www.nhs.uk/Conditions/Diabetes-type2/Pages/Introduction.aspx)

Diabetes affects 2.8 million people in the UK and it is thought that a further one million people have the condition but are not aware of it.

In Wales one in twenty adults are diabetic and 10% of the UK’s National Health Service expenditure goes on treating diabetes related conditions.

Diabetes is a long-term (chronic) condition caused by too much glucose, a type of sugar, in the blood.

Normally, the amount of sugar in the blood is controlled by a hormone called insulin. Insulin is produced by the pancreas, a gland located behind the stomach. When food is digested and enters the bloodstream, insulin helps move glucose out of the blood and into cells, where it is broken down to produce energy.

In people with diabetes, the body is unable to break down glucose into energy. This is because there is either not enough insulin to move the glucose, or because the body does not respond to the insulin that is there.

Type 2 diabetes accounts for around 90% of all cases of diabetes and can be controlled initially by eating a healthy diet. However, as type 2 diabetes is a progressive condition, it may eventually be necessary to take medication (tablets or insulin)

Type 2 diabetes is often associated with obesity. Obesity-related diabetes is sometimes referred to as maturity-onset diabetes because it is more common in older people.

Department of Sport and Exercise Science
The Department of Sport and Exercise (http://www.aber.ac.uk/en/sport-exercise/) delivers undergraduate programmes in sport and exercise science, performs research in the sport and exercise sciences, and provides consultancy services to individuals and organisations in Wales and the rest of the U.K. Sport and exercise science is about the scientific analysis of how the human body moves, exercises and performs sport. It is about understanding the sciences of biomechanics, physiology and psychology to provide the theoretical knowledge and it about applying this knowledge to practical situations.

Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS)
Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) (www.aber.ac.uk/en/ccs/business/initiatives/kess/) support collaborative research projects linked to businesses in the Convergence area of Wales. KESS provides funding for students to work on research projects that match academic expertise with business-focused research needs. Participating partners make a cash and an in-kind contribution and in return benefit from innovative research through Aberystwyth University.

KESS is part-funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) through the European Union’s Convergence programme administered by the Welsh Government.