Glucose regulation research to explore racial disparities 

Increased cases of obesity and diabetes influence education on the maintenance of glucose levels. 

Philisiwe Ntuli, a Master of Science (MSc) student in Chemical Pathology at Wits University is currently doing research on the possibility of racial disparities in how different people regulate their blood sugar levels. 

Glucose regulation is the process by which levels of blood sugar (glucose) in blood plasma are maintained by the body. 

The study will compare the difference in how the bodies of black and white females respond when “injected” with glucose. Ntuli, said that previous studies overseas were done on animals, and she wants to see if humans will have the same reaction. 

Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition reported in 2022 that 67% of the South African population is pre-diabetic, 22% of the population is diabetic and 11% of the population is non-diabetic. Source: Journal of Health, Population, and Nutrition 2022

Ntuli, told Wits Vuvuzela that the study uses normal glycaemic individuals (people who are not diabetic) and analyses data from their pancreatic beta cells. Beta cells produce insulin in the pancreas.  

When glucose is not regulated by the body it can cause long-term effects such as insulin resistance, obesity, and type 2 diabetes among others.  

In a written statement to Wits Vuvuzela, Dr Marketa Toman, Ntuli’s supervisor said: “Catestatin was suggested by several authors as a potential treatment for hypertension, obesity or type 2 diabetes”. Catestatin is an amino acid which assists in the regulation of glucose in the bloodstream.   

In 2018 the government introduced a Health Promotion Levy (HPL) known as the “sugar tax” in an attempt to reduce obesity and related diseases. 

In an article published by Health-e in 2017, Endocrinologist Dr Sundeep Ruder, said “Our hospitals are too overburdened and under-resourced to cope. Inpatient mortality rates are high from the complications of diabetes and obesity.” 

To reduce the burden on the national health care system and reduce the high rates of chronic diseases in the country, Ntuli, said that prevention is better than cure. Knowing your glucose levels will help you make better choices.  

FEATURED IMAGE: Isotape Geosciences lab has opened up advance scientific research. Photo: Nomvelo Chalumbira/File

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