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New diabetes patients aren’t participating in education and training programs that can help them control the chronic condition, according to a report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in the US.

Fewer than 7% of newly diagnosed diabetes (both type 1 &2) patients take part in diabetes self-management and education training (DSMT) that teaches them how to monitor diet, exercise and glucose levels. The report shows that only 4% of those newly diagnosed with diabetes participate in DSMT programs.

The study looked at data from more than 95,000 patients who were diagnosed with diabetes in 2011. Researchers said prior to healthcare reform, a lack of insurance coverage caused many new diabetes patients to skip training programs. But other barriers to participation identified by the study include

  • Many insurance plans don’t cover DSMT programs

  • Some DSMT programs require a physician referral

  • Many patients don’t know DSMT programs exist, or may have avoidance behaviors toward diabetes treatment.

The study found that almost 26% of newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetes patients are not prescribed medications, so lifestyle monitoring is even more important to deter any further complications. The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics suggests using both DSMT and medical nutrition therapy to complement diabetes care, as they provide different techniques to patients.

“Although some persons might have participated in medical nutrition therapy, from which they receive nutrition recommendations and interventions, others might have limited knowledge about the dietary aspects of type 2 diabetes management,” the study’s authors said. “For those not prescribed medication for glycemic management, failure to participate in DSMT could mean that their diabetes remains essentially untreated. For those with Type 1 diabetes, lack of participation in DSMT could reduce the likelihood of adequate blood glucose management.”