Impact of the Balanced School Day on Glycemic Control in Children with Type 1 Diabetes
Canadian Journal of Diabetes
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Objective The balanced school day (BSD) is an alternative elementary school schedule whereby children have 2 20-minute eating periods instead of 1 20-minute lunch, as is found in the traditional schedule (TS). We assessed the glycated hemoglobin (A1C) levels of children with type 1 diabetes in the TS vs. the BSD because 2 eating periods have the potential to impact blood glucose control.
Methods A1C levels representative of the summer months (SumA1C) and A1C levels occurring at least 3 months after the start of the school year (SchA1C) were obtained retrospectively. A parental survey of perceptions of lunch planning, activity levels and diabetes management at school was also completed.
Results Our sample included 97 students (TS=42, BSD=55). The mean age ± SD was 10.9±2.6 and 10.1±2.8 years in the TS and BSD, respectively (p=0.12). Sex distribution was not statistically different; 54% were female in TS vs. 36% in BSD; p=0.08. SumA1C was similar in the 2 groups (TS: 8.3±1.1% vs. BSD: 8.0±0.8%; p=0.08). There was a significant within-group increase from SumA1C to SchA1C in the BSD group only (p=0.001), with mean A1C values increasing from 8.0%±0.8% to 8.5%±1.0% in the BSD group compared to no significant increase in the TS group. Parental perceptions of lunch planning, physical activity and diabetes management were similar, regardless of school schedule.
Conclusions Children with type 1 diabetes in the BSD appear to have worse diabetes control during the school year compared to the summer, which is not evident in children in the TS. Additional school supports may assist students in the BSD.