Yesterday was a milestone (one among many) for the first six of the group of 20 young people (age 15-18) with diabetes or pre-diabetes who have been on a three year health journey as part of the Diabetes Foundation Aotearoa/Middlemore Hospital collaboration, the Adolescent Bariatric project. See here for more information and here for a story from one participant. From our organisation, Dr John Baker (Diabetes Specialist), Kate Smallman (Nurse Practitioner/Researcher), Trish Harry (Health Promoter/Research Assistant) and Diana Anderson (Registered Nutritionist/Accredited Optifast Provider) have worked closely with this group since early 2020.
Ultimately, these young people have had a prolonged commitment to making changes in their lives. They have had zoom meetings, in-office meetings, blood tests, medications changes, a challenging programme of VLCD, physical activity, weigh-ins, clinic visits, teaching sessions, appointments, specialist sessions and lots of questionnaires to fill out. Some have been offered or had Bariatric surgery. Diana comments that she has a huge amount of admiration for the amount of work that they put in, that there were some things that were "really, really hard".
It has been amazing to see the strength shown on the individual health journeys, everyone doing what they could. For each person, the experience was very different, however what is common among them all is that so much has been learned. Dr Baker commented how impressive it was how the group had over time recognised that their own health was important.
This particular first group was also most impacted by the challenges of Covid-19 restrictions on top of all of the other things that go on in the lives of busy young people. What a great experience it has been for the Diabetes Foundation Aotearoa team, and a rare privilege to work with these amazing teens and their families.
Trish notes that the last clinic was a "happy see-yah-later-but-not-goodbye" and expresses her thanks to the teens and their whanau for the trust they have shown. She appreciates the many memories and wishes them all the best.
The study continues until the rest of the recruited teens (in several groups) are finished, the last is expected through in 2025. Data collection is ongoing and results will be reported on when available.
whanau and supporters of the participants
those who helped with the recruitment
Middlemore hospital, including Dr Brandon Orr-Walker, and Dr Richard Babor and the Bariatric Team
Funding from the Potter Trust (Freemason Foundation) and Perpetual Guardian Trust