A team of UBC Okanagan researchers recently won an award for a social media campaign that helps showcase research findings showing that Type 2 diabetes remission is possible.
More than 90 per cent of the diabetes diagnoses in Canada are Type 2—when a person’s body does not make enough insulin and the body becomes insulin resistant, leading to risese in blood sugar levels and the body not creating the energy it needs for proper functioning.
Today is World Diabetes Day and UBCO researchers Dr. Jonathan Little, a Professor in the Faculty of Health and Social Development, and Dr. Barbara Oliveira, a Research Coordinator with the School of Health and Exercise Sciences and the Centre For Chronic Disease Prevention and Management, want people to know that diet and exercise changes can help control Type 2 diabetes.
Dr. Little talks about Remission Possible, the award they won and new hope for many people with Type 2 diabetes.
Can you explain the T2 Spark Innovation Challenge?
The T2D Spark Innovation Challenge was a recent contest that provided a platform for students, researchers, health-care providers, innovators and people living with or affected by Type 2 diabetes. Participants had an opportunity to pitch, in front of a panel of judges in a Dragon’s Den style format, creative ideas that could help with Type 2 diabetes prevention, management, and remission.
The event was sponsored by the BC Diabetes Research Network, Interior Health and UBC Okanagan’s Centre for Chronic Disease Prevention and Management Centre, along with private partners. Our team won $15,000 for our story-telling and social media campaign Remission Possible.
What is Remission Possible?
There is emerging scientific evidence that Type 2 diabetes can be put into remission and this provides new hope for people because it indicates their condition may not be chronic and progressive and they may be able to control their blood sugar and come off medication with specific changes to diet and exercise.
Harnessing the power of character and story—from people with lived experience of Type 2 diabetes remission—our team created an inspiring social media campaign to spread the word that remission is possible.
The campaign shares the real-life journeys of people who have achieved Type 2 diabetes remission. With social media advertising, we are able to promote these stories to reach thousands of British Columbians, spreading the word that Type 2 diabetes remission is possible.
The campaign provides evidence-based information, a toolkit with tips on remission and a letter they can bring to their health-care provider.
What are some of the stories from your participants?
Working with documentary filmmaker Damien Gillis, Remission Possible tells the inspiring journeys of JJ, Theresa, Chris and Amy.
JJ was enrolled in one of our UBCO clinical trials to achieve remission by following a low-calorie diet. Theresa worked with her doctor to follow a low-carb diet, engaged in time-restricted eating and started taking post-dinner walks. Chris learned how to follow a ketogenic diet and became an avid hiker and rock climber. Meanwhile, Amy started exercising and worked with a dietitian on a sustainable eating plan.
All of the participants explained in their videos how remission gave them hope that they could manage their condition and that remission was a journey, not a destination. Each story was unique but one commonality was that a supportive health-care provider—a doctor, registered dietitian or pharmacist—was key.
And what were the results? Is this typical?
Each individual has their own inspiring pathway. Amy, for example, noticed her blood sugars were going too high, with an A1C at 11.1 per cent—higher than the 6.5 per cent threshold for diabetes diagnoses. She worked with a dietitian to change her diet and got active by incorporating tennis and dragon boat racing into her routine. Her A1C numbers came down to 5.6 per cent—which is in the normoglycemic range—and she doesn’t have to take any medications.
Amy also lost some weight and started feeling healthy again. She highlights how important it is to respect your body and accept “pauses or small missteps” along the ongoing journey of Type 2 diabetes remission.
What direction do you see your research going in the future?
Through the power of story and social media, we wish to connect with broader audiences nationally and internationally to demonstrate the value and hope that Type 2 remission can bring to patients.
We would also like to integrate health-care provider-based remission programs and empower interested patients to take the next step in their health journey.