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New Study in Columbus Points to Lack of Protein as One Major Cause of Diabetes, Greater Physical Limitations

Jessica N. Abraham

“Half of all Americans living with diabetes may be consuming less than the recommended amount of protein, which is associated with greater physical limitations” -- a bold hypothesis made by researchers at The Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences in Columbus, Ohio.

A new study was conducted by The Ohio State University and Abbott Laboratories (NYSE: ABT), showed that half of the adults surveyed that were living with diabetes did not consume the daily recommended intake of protein. This is often associated with lower diet quality, increased carbohydrate intake and a greater set of physical limitations when it wears on the body.

Diabetes is a major problem for not just Ohioans but people all over the world.

The intake of protein was highlighted as an essential and often overlooked consideration in the meeting of nutritional needs for people living with diabetes. It also plays a major part in the support of strength and mobility within the human body. It may also put patients with diabetes at a greater risk of muscle loss.

Muscle loss, contrary to popular belief, can also be a contributing factor of obesity in people who often undereat.

Based on the findings of this study, Abbott, the global leader in continuous glucose monitoring devices, was able to develop a line of nutritional products, scientifically designed for people with diabetes. Glucerna® 30g protein shakes, for example, were developed to help people with diabetes meet important daily protein consumption goals and that often miss daily targets for recommended caloric intake.

"We've long studied the impact of sugar consumption in people living with diabetes, but new data shed light on the critical association between low protein intake and diabetes," said Christopher Taylor, Ph.D. R.D., lead researcher, and professor of Medical Dietetics at The Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences.

Published in the scientific journal of human nutrition, Nutrients, the retrospective cross-sectional analysis examined data from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) collected between 2005 and 2016 from more than 23,000 adults in the U.S. Key findings from the analysis include:

  • People living with diabetes who did not consume the daily recommendation of protein on the day of intake reported a higher prevalence of physical limitations, including difficulty completing basic movements, such as stooping, crouching, kneeling, standing for long periods, and pushing or pulling large objects.
  • Adults with diabetes who met protein recommendations had better overall diet quality, more closely meeting dietary recommendations for total daily intake of vegetables, whole grains, dairy and added sugars.
  • People with diabetes who exhibited low protein intake showed significantly poorer nutrient density, lower overall diet quality, and consumed 12.5% more carbohydrates, which may negatively impact glucose levels.

Taylor continues, "Diabetes is associated with a risk for developing low muscle mass, which can lead to falls and other injuries. That's why protein consumption—and awareness of the need for it—is critical to maintaining muscle mass and preserving functional mobility, which can help people living with diabetes live stronger overall lives."

"This study highlights the importance of the quality of foods in our diet as well as the quantity of nutrients we need daily—both of which have a significant impact on health and mobility, especially for people living with diabetes," said Sara Thomas, Ph.D., R.D.N., a research scientist and dietitian at Abbott specializing in diabetes. "Nutrition education will help people successfully manage a condition like diabetes, emphasizing the need to achieve a well-rounded diet with the right nutrients and avoid foods that are detrimental to optimal health."

Abbott’s Glucerna 30g protein shake was made with CARBSTEADY®, a unique blend of slow-release carbohydrates and 30 grams of protein per serving. Likewise, the Glucerna Path to Progress program was created to encourage those people with diabetes to swap poor food choices with more nutritious options -- and options that work well with their body types. Through this program, people will have more access to a nutrition-focused pathway which supports them in successfully managing the condition.

According to the study:

“Understanding the recommended daily intake requirements for macronutrients like protein, fat and carbohydrates, and more than 25 vitamins and minerals can be complicated. The National Academy of Medicine, formerly the Institute of Medicine, developed the Dietary Reference Intakes (DRIs), a set of reference values used to plan and assess nutrient intakes and provide recommended consumption levels. The DRIs recommend adults consume 0.36 grams of protein per pound of body mass each day, which means that a person weighing 150 pounds should consume 54 grams of protein per day. The DRI calculator can help determine individual nutrient needs for overall micro-and macronutrient intakes. Individuals should discuss results with a healthcare professional.”

"At Abbott, we are continually working to advance our understanding so that we can enable a more holistic approach to managing diabetes from the point of diagnosis with industry-leading glucose monitoring and world-class nutrition. This new research underscores Abbott's long-time focus on diabetes care and will help us continue to support people living with this condition," said Matt Beebe, divisional vice president and general manager of Abbott's U.S. nutrition business.

While Abbott Labs is headquartered in Illinois, they have locations in the Greater Columbus Area, which made it easier for the two to team up in lieu of this research consortium.

For more information about the study and Abbott, itself, visit Glucerna 30g protein shakes are available online at, and can be found at major retailers online and in-store locations, including Amazon and CVS.

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Jessica N. Abraham is a writer, designer and publicist, specializing in Business, Technology and the Jobs Industry. | AS SEEN ON: Benzinga | | The Muse | News Break | PeopleKeys | TMC Net | Medium | Vocal | Cha Cha in the City | | TalentZoo | Digital Pivot | CBSLOCAL: Miami & South Florida | CBSLOCAL: Tampa Fresh Faces | RecipeStation | Examiner

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