Researchers Develop New Screening Method For Diabetes

March 23, 1998

Researchers at the University of Toronto have developed a more accurate method of detecting glucose intolerance, according to an article in the March issue of Diabetes Care.

Professor Thomas Wolever of the department of nutritional sciences and his team have created a standardized wafer of oats, soy and canola oil that can be used in testing for glucose intolerance. People with higher-than-normal blood glucose levels are 10 times more likely to develop diabetes than those with normal levels. Currently, the screening process for diabetes involves an overnight fast, followed by a blood sugar sample, a drink containing 75 grams of glucose and another blood sugar test two hours later.

"Our study found the standardized test meal does not produce the nausea often associated with the current glucose tolerance test and also provides more consistent results," says Wolever. "We think it's a major improvement over existing ways to screen for diabetes and impaired glucose tolerance."

Thirty-six people -- including those with normal and impaired glucose tolerance and mild diabetes -- participated in the study. Each subject had eight randomly allocated tests -- either the traditional glucose tolerance test or the standardized test wafer.

Diabetes is a major cause of blindness, kidney failure, heart disease and circulatory problems in the feet and legs. To prevent its onset, Wolever says, it's necessary to detect changes in blood sugar before signs of diabetes have begun to develop.

Screening is also helpful in detecting maturity onset diabetes, a form that takes years to develop and can exist for a long time in people without any symptoms. The researchers now plan to test their diabetes screening product on pregnant women.

Funding for the study was provided by Ceapro, a public company in Edmonton that produces oat products. A patent is pending. CONTACT: Professor Thomas Wolever, department of nutritional sciences, (416) 978-5556, e-mail:, Carol Palmason, senior vice-president (pharmaceuticals), Ceapro, (403) 421-4555, e-mail: or Christina Marshall, U of T public affairs, (416) 978-5949, e-mail:

University of Toronto

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