Boynton class to teach unique insulin management methods

Troy Pieper

For many students, the college lifestyle involves late-night gorging on pizza and skipping meals in favor of studying.

But those habits could be deadly for diabetic students who live on strict diets and must frequently test their blood sugar levels.

A new course held at Boynton Health Service will teach students dependent on insulin to manage their disease while attending college. The course, called Functional Insulin Therapy, will be offered to the 2 percent of University students who have type-1 diabetes mellitus.

Students in the course will endure fasts, enjoy feasts or exercise intensely to learn how their bodies respond, said David Golden, Boynton’s health, marketing and program development director. The participants will learn how to manage their insulin dosages by using different amounts unique to their bodies. Typical insulin dosages are uniform amounts taken before meals.

Molly Nelson-Holte, a University senior, said she enrolled in the course to learn more about the disease and to meet people who deal with it daily. She said she is “looking forward to bonding with other diabetics.”

Insulin management has been taught in Europe for approximately 20 years, said Kinga Howorka, the University of Vienna professor who developed the course.

Blood sugar monitoring courses offered to diabetics in the early 1980s allowed them to eat regular meals, she said. However, Howorka said, people on regimented diets were unsuccessful. But insulin pumps showed dosage monitoring was possible.

The pumps, which are carried on a belt and deliver insulin through a needle inserted under the skin, can be programmed to administer a uniform amount of insulin or can be manually operated to deliver a larger dose.

American physicians have been reluctant to accept insulin management because it gives control of a patient’s diabetes to the patient, Golden said. Without proper management, he said, diabetes can take a heavy toll on organs and the circulatory system.

Howorka said now “many therapists are quite eager to take over the methodology of functional insulin therapy. It’s spreading all the time, more and more.”

Sheryl Hill, whose son is diabetic, established the FIT U.S.A. Foundation in Mound, Minn., to bring Howorka’s course to the United States. Hill has taken groups to Vienna to take the class, and Howorka has traveled to the United States several times to teach it.

University freshman James Adams said he enjoys the control functional insulin therapy gives him. He is one of the first 26 Americans to take the course in the United States, at Hennepin County Medical Center.

“My blood sugar would jump up and down and all over the place,” he said. Now, Adams said, he can control his blood sugar and the disease instead of the other way around.

Troy Pieper welcomes comments at [email protected]