Throughout July PLOS Medicine are publishing their inaugural special monthly issue, which focuses on Diabetes Prevention and is edited by MRC Epidemiology Unit Director Professor Nick Wareham, and Professor William Herman, Director of the Michigan Center for Diabetes Translational Research. It contains key articles – all of which are freely available to read without subscription – that show the strength, depth and breadth of research being carried out in this area, a number of which involve researchers from the MRC Epidemiology Unit.
In a statement on the reasons why they decided to launch the special monthly issues, PLOS Medicine said:
PLOS Medicine, now in our 12th year, publishes research across the spectrum of translation, from lab to clinic to epidemiology and public health, and has a strong interest in non-communicable diseases and their societal drivers. In 2016, we have decided to take a new approach by publishing occasional special monthly issues on topics that we believe merit particular attention in the most accessible of the world’s major medical journals. We believe that a key to ensuring important research can be translated into action is to reduce the barriers to dissemination and use by publishing in an Open Access venue.
In their editorial, Professor Wareham and Professor Herman focus on the need to develop effective public health interventions for the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes that can be implemented in both resource-rich and resource-poor health care systems, writing:
“Inequity is at the heart of the diabetes problem, since 75% of cases occur in low- and middle-income countries. The impact of diabetes on emerging countries will be particularly severe as the disease is chronic, expensive to treat, and tends to affect economically active people. The economic cost of dealing with the consequences of diabetes is not only a threat to health systems but is a far broader economic and social problem and thus a threat to future long-term sustainable development. Research aimed at diabetes prevention is therefore the focus of this special issue of PLOS Medicine.”
At 18:00 London time, on Wednesday 27 July Professor Wareham will take part in a ‘PLOS Science Wednesday’ Ask Me Anything (AMA) live online Q&A on Reddit Science, where he will be joined by other authors from the special issue. For 60 minutes they will answer live and pre-submitted questions from a diverse audience on the future of type 2 diabetes prevention.
Among the research papers and perspectives in this PLOS Medicine special issue are several co-authored by scientists from the Unit and Centre for Diet and Activity Research (CEDAR), including the following:
Dr Annalijn Conklin, Dr Pablo Monsivais, Dr Nita Forouhi, and colleagues examine the association between the reported diversity of intake of food groups and subtypes among the 23,238 participants in the population based EPIC-Norfolk cohort, and the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. Importantly, they also estimate the monetary cost associated with dietary diversity in this population, and in the accompanying Conversation article ‘A varied diet can prevent diabetes – but can you afford it?’ they discuss the implications of their findings for public health policy.
Association of plasma phospholipid omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids with type 2 diabetes: The EPIC-InterAct case-cohort study
Dr Nita Forouhi and colleagues examine how the consumption of individual types of omega-3 and omega-6 polyunsaturated fatty acids is linked to the risk of developing type 2 diabetes in the world’s largest study of newly diagnosed cases of the disease. Their findings help to address concerns surrounding a possible link between the consumption of omega-6 linoleic acid and development of type 2 diabetes.
Effects of Saturated Fat, Polyunsaturated Fat, Monounsaturated Fat, and Carbohydrate on Glucose-Insulin Homeostasis: A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Randomised Controlled Feeding Trials
Dr Fumiaki Imamura and colleagues analyse data from more than one hundred randomised controlled feeding trials which recruited adults with or without diabetes and investigated the impact of diets that varied in the types and amounts of fat and carbohydrate on measures of metabolic health, including blood sugar, blood insulin, insulin resistance and sensitivity, and ability to produce insulin in response to blood sugar. Their findings indicate that consumption of unsaturated fats in place of either saturated fats or carbohydrates has a beneficial impact on measures of metabolic health, and could aid in the prevention and management of type 2 diabetes.
Dr Jenna Panter and Dr David Ogilvie discuss emerging evidence on how physical activity such as cycling can lower the risk of developing diabetes, and why population-level interventions to improve activity patterns need to be rigorously evaluated in order to provide the evidence required to support investment in infrastructural strategies that facilitate physical activity.
Martin White argues that population approaches to prevention that aim to reduce key risk factors for T2DM in the whole population, irrespective of individual level of risk, offer the most effective means of stemming the emerging obesity and type 2 diabetes pandemics, particularly in low and middle income countries where approaches that seek to change the behaviour of individuals may be unaffordable. He also stresses the need to develop innovative research methods in order to evaluate these approaches, as in many cases standard clinical trials will not be optimal, or even possible.
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