Background: Type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) is a chronic and demanding disease affecting not only the patients life but also the whole familys perspective. Many studies have explored the effect of T1DM on the emotional and social life of the family; however, a small amount of evidence for the dietary habits of the unaffected members of the family currently exists.
Objective and hypotheses: To explore the effects that T1DM has on the dietary habits of the unaffected members of the family.
Method: The survey was performed during the regular visit of patient and family at the outpatient paediatric diabetic clinic of our department. Unaffected family members (parents and non-diabetic children) were asked to participate in the study. Changes in dietary habits were assessed using a standardized questionnaire (family eating and activity habits questionnaire, FEAH) and a questionnaire of demographic, anthropometric and nutritional data of family that was specifically designed for this study. Height and weight were measured and BMI was calculated for each unaffected member of the family during the visit, whereas previous measurements were retrieved either by health records or by memory.
Results: Members of fifty families were interviewed. Differences in dietary habits before and after the diagnosis of T1DM were documented to affect predominantly mothers. A statistically significant intra-familial difference in dietary habits was observed with mothers being affected more than fathers (P=0.001). This effect was more prominent in mothers whose child was diagnosed with T1DM at a younger age than later in life. Assessment of family activity revealed a low percentage of physical activity for most of the families.
Conclusion: Mothers and especially those with children diagnosed with T1DM at the age of 5.5 years or earlier changed their dietary habits in a higher proportion. A significant number of families retained their unhealthy nutritional habits after the diagnosis of T1DM and in conjunction with the reported low level of physical activity indicate areas for intervention.
01 - 03 Oct 2015
European Society for Paediatric Endocrinology