Valentine's Day Is No Romance for Diabetes Control

Miriam E. Tucker

February 13, 2018

Valentine's Day may be the sweetest of all celebrations, but not always in a good way.

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

The Glooko Web and Mobile application, which recently merged with Europe's Diasend, tracks data from blood glucose 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.

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 168 mg/dL (9.3 mmol/L) compared with 158 mg/dL (8.8 mmol/L) on Halloween, 140 mg/dL (7.8 mmol/L) on Christmas Day, and 131 mg/dL (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. It is likely that is what drives higher glucose," Glooko's vice president of Strategy, Michelle de Haaff, told Medscape Medical News.

Among all days, January 1 had the lowest percentage of blood glucose readings in range (70 - 144 mg/dL, 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 28.

One can also form hypotheses about blood glucose variations by time of day: The most common time for hypoglycemia (<70 mg/dL, <3.9 mmol/L) was Friday at 2:00 am, and the most common period for hyperglycemia (>200 mg/dL, >11.1 mmol/L) was Sunday at 12:00 am.

Blood Glucose Trends Around the World

Of all the countries in which Glooko operates, Belgium was number 1 in terms of lowest average blood glucose, at 157 mg/dL (8.7 mmol/L). Next in line was the Czech Republic, at 165 mg/dL (9.1 mmol/L).

The highest average blood glucose level was measured in Australia, at 194 mg/dL (10.8 mmol/L), with the United States and the United Kingdom close behind, at 183 mg/dL (10.2 mmol/L) and 186 mg/dL (10.3 mmol/L), respectively.

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

Australia had the highest frequency of hyperglycemia, at 72.1% of days, whereas the Netherlands had the most hypoglycemia, 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 liters of insulin in 2017, or enough to fill 80 bathtubs.

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