Research Communications

Fast Treatment 

Kayla Bober studies new way to manage type 2 diabetes

April 27, 2011

Doctors typically prescribe more insulin for patients with type 2 diabetes who have trouble keeping their sugar levels under control with diet, exercise, and oral medications. But it doesn’t work for everyone. Ohio University pre-med student Kayla Bober recently examined an alternative treatment option: fasting to improve insulin sensitivity.

Under the guidance of Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine clinicians Randall Colucci and Jay Shubrook, Bober helped conduct a study in which patients drank only carb-free liquids over the course of 60 to 72 hours to improve insulin sensitivity, reduce their insulin intake, and lose weight.

The patients recorded their blood sugar levels four to six times per day. Bober collected this data daily and kept track of their insulin intake. After the fast, the patients slowly re-introduced carbohydrates into their diet over the course of one month.

Kayla Bober
Kayla Bober. Photo credit: Kevin Riddell.

Every patient showed drastic improvements in their insulin dosage, as well as significant weight loss. Some results were  shorter-lived than others, however.

“Their results not only depended on how strictly they followed the fast and transition diet, but also on their condition before the fast,” says Bober, who presented the results of her research at the Ohio University College of Osteopathic Medicine’s “Research Day” event.

Patients who were the most overweight and needed the highest doses of insulin before the fast lost the most weight and experienced the most drastic reduction in insulin intake, she explains. However, these patients needed the most adjustments in insulin during the post-fast transition month.

The study helped Bober, who hopes to attend an osteopathic medical school after graduation, better understand type 2 diabetes and appreciate the patients who struggle with it every day. The project also showed her both the opportunities and the limitations clinicians face in helping patients with chronic disease.

“I want the patients to continue to be healthy,” Bober says. “I can tell them what to do, but I can’t force them to do it. I have high hopes for them, but I can’t stop them from making certain nutrition choices, and that is the biggest challenge for me.”

By Milissa Hudepohl

This article will appear in the Spring/Summer 2011 issue of Perspectives magazine. Bober will present research at the 2011 Student Research and Creative Activity Expo Friday, May 13 in the Convocation Center.