New Muffin Test for Diabetes Easier to Swallow for Patients

There could be treats in store for people who go for diabetes testing, if results from a recent study influence medics.  Instead of the icky glucose drink generally given to patients, the study recommends “the muffin test”, which is as yummy as it sounds.

Testing for diabetes, one of the growing diseases of affluent nations as our eating habits and lifestyles fail to improve and obesity levels rise, involves the patient attending the doctor’s office or local health center having had nothing to eat since the day before.  The patient is then given a drink sweetened with a measured amount of glucose and a finger stick blood test is done. A glucose test called HbA1c is done on the sample to determine whether the glucose level is 126Mg or higher per deciliter of blood.  A normal person who has not eaten will have between 70 and 100Mg of glucose in their blood, so a reading of 126 or higher indicates pre-diabetes or diabetes.

However, many doctors will tell you from experience that some patients have problems with the glucose test because they find the sweet drink unpleasant.  Some feel sick after drinking it and many patients put off coming for the test or even refuse it altogether because they cannot face having to take the drink.

Researchers at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, New York, feel that eating real everyday food might be a better bet for both patients and doctors, making the test easier to swallow for the patient and giving the medics a more realistic idea of how the body is dealing with proper food.

The team found that women in particular hate going for glucose tests because they find the drink nauseous.  However, the study showed consuming a muffin instead led to better testing and is also cheaper to provide than the standard drink.

The study tested 73 women aged in their 40s and 50s, who were given a muffin in a variety of flavors including blueberry and chocolate from the local bakery instead of the drink.  12 other not so lucky women were given the drink.

After two hours, the women were all tested for glucose levels, and eight of the 73 women were proved to have impaired glucose tolerance – women who would have been missed in the normal glucose testing.  In the group of 12 women given the glucose drink, one was shown to have impaired glucose tolerance – but the muffin test picked up a second woman in this group.

Delicious though the idea of muffin testing is, it does have some drawbacks.  While a muffin costing about $1 is certainly cheaper than a $5 bottle of glucose it is difficult to see how a medical center could store an item with such a short shelf life, and muffins are not a given quantity as recipes vary from store to store.

But the muffin is less likely to make anyone feel sick as the drink does, might motivate more people to go for their glucose tests instead of putting them off or refusing them altogether, and does give a better picture of how the body reacts to proper food of the kind people would be likely to eat in daily life.

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