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Valentine's Day 'is no romance for diabetes control'

By Miriam Tucker
WebMD UK Health News Brief
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

14th February 2018 – Valentine's Day may be a sweet celebration, but not always in a good way.

In fact, chocolate-laden February the 14th tops other carb fests for highest average blood sugar levels among people with diabetes, according to data downloaded from devices onto the diabetes digital health platform Glooko.

The Glooko web and smartphone app tracks data from blood sugar meters, insulin pumps, continuous glucose monitors, and fitness/activity trackers, for more than 1.5 million people with diabetes in 23 countries. About two thirds of users have type 1 diabetes.

Blood sugar trends

The company's 2017 Annual Diabetes Report, comprising more than 8 billion data points, reveals some fascinating trends.

Among them: overall, average blood glucose on Valentine's Day was 9.3 mmol/L compared with 8.8 mmol/L on Halloween, 7.8 mmol/L on Christmas Day, and 7.3 mmol/L on New Years' Eve.

"Valentine's is known to be a sugary holiday where chocolates are given as gifts and people go out for meals," Glooko's vice president of Strategy, Michelle de Haaff, tells Medscape Medical News. "It is likely that is what drives higher glucose."

Among all days, January 1st had the lowest percentage of blood glucose readings in range 3.9 - 8.0 mmol/L, whereas the best glucose day of the year (ie, the day with the most in-range readings) was September 28th.

One can also form hypotheses about blood glucose variations by time of day. The most common time for hypoglycaemia, defined as a blood sugar level of less than 3.9 mmol/L, was Friday at 2am. The most common period for hyperglycaemia, with a blood sugar level of more than 11.1 mmol/L, was Sunday at midnight.

Blood glucose trends around the world

Of all the countries in which Glooko operates, Belgium was number 1 in terms of lowest average blood sugar, at 8.7 mmol/L. Next in line was the Czech Republic, at 9.1 mmol/L.

The highest average blood glucose level was measured in Australia at 10.8 mmol/L, with the UK and the US close behind at 10.3 mmol/L and 10.2 mmol/L respectively.

Interestingly, Belgium had the lowest frequencies of both hyper- and hypoglycaemia, at 36.4% and 6.4% of days with one or more such readings, respectively.

Australia had the highest frequency of hyperglycaemia, at 72.1% of days, whereas the Netherlands had the most hypoglycaemia, at 23.1% of days.

The number of blood glucose tests performed per day ranged from 2.7 in South Africa to 4.4 in the Netherlands.

Glooko users gave themselves 11,975 litres of insulin in 2017, or enough to fill 80 bathtubs.

Reviewed on February 14, 2018

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