Nutrition education improves metabolic outcomes among older adults with diabetes mellitus: results from a randomized controlled trial

Prev Med. 2002 Feb;34(2):252-9. doi: 10.1006/pmed.2001.0985.


Background: Few diabetes education programs have been designed specifically for older adults. This study evaluated the impact of a nutrition intervention on the blood glucose and lipoprotein levels of adults > or =65 years of age without functional limitations but with type 2 diabetes for > or =1 year.

Methods: Ninety-eight people were randomized to the experimental or control group. A pretest-posttest control group design was used to evaluate the intervention. Ninety-two people (94%) completed the study. The 10-week intervention incorporated principles from information processing, learning theory, and Social Cognitive Theory to meet the needs of older adults. Analysis of covariance compared outcomes between groups. The paired t test compared results within groups.

Results: Participants exceeded the guidelines for optimal glycemic control at pretest. The experimental group had greater improvements in fasting plasma glucose (P = 0.05) and glycated hemoglobin (P < 0.01) than the control group. Significantly more participants in the experimental group than control group met the treatment goals for total cholesterol at posttest (P < 0.05).

Conclusions: Older adults with diabetes need additional education to achieve metabolic control. Nutrition education can improve metabolic control among this cohort. Improved metabolic outcomes reduce the morbidity and mortality associated with diabetes.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial
  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / physiopathology
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A / analysis
  • Humans
  • Lipoproteins / blood
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nutritional Sciences / education*
  • Patient Education as Topic*
  • Self Care
  • United States


  • Blood Glucose
  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Lipoproteins