A Workshop on Nutrition Therapy for Individuals with Type 2 Diabetes held in Iceland concluded that the primary health care system needs nutritionists and is important to promote teamwork.
Diabetes is a serious and fast growing health problem worldwide and it´s complications are many, expensive and serious. The exact number of individuals with diabetes in Iceland is uncertain but it can be assumed that the numbers are similar to neighboring countries, or about 10% of the population. More number of people have prediabetes. Nine out of ten diabetics have type 2 diabetes. Nutritional therapy is the cornerstone of treatment of individuals with diabetes. However, there are very few positions for nutritionists in the primary health care system in Iceland where most individuals with type 2 diabetes receive their treatment. Very few diabetics meet a nutritionist until they are admitted to a hospital.
Increasing research on nutrition therapy has led to lively discussions but could also lead to discrepancies in messages from health care workers and others. It is very important that all healthcare workers offer similar advice on diet, and follow the best knowledge and official guidelines at all times. In recent months a group of nutritionists in Iceland revised the current Icelandic clinical guidelines on nutritional treatment for individuals with type 2 diabetes. The draft of the new guidelines is more detailed than before with an increased emphasis on personalized nutrition therapy.
As consistent dietary advice is of great importance for the patients it was decided to have a multidisciplinary workshop on World Health Day (April 7th) in Iceland to discuss nutritional therapy and the draft of the new guidelines. The participation was well above what was expected, as 130 physicians, dietitians, nurses and other health workers who handle individuals with type 2 diabetes in Iceland attended the workshop. Discussions were in small groups and conclusion of the groups were almost unanimous: It is necessary to use evidence-based nutritional therapy for individuals with type 2 diabetes but equally important to update recommendations on a regular basis in line with the research activity. It was also a consensus among the doctors and nurses who attended the workshop that the primary health care system desperately needs access to nutrition experts.
Multidisciplinary team work of health care workers is a key factor in the treatment of chronic diseases such as type 2 diabetes.
Óla Kallý Magnúsdóttir
Landspitali - The University Hospital of Iceland