Diabfrail LatAm Research Project Launch funded by the European Union to study the effectiveness of a functional exercise and education program for older adults with diabetes.

With the signing of the shared agreements between the European Commission and a Consortium formed by the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), hospitals, universities, research centers and NGOs of three European countries (Spain, Italy and the United Kingdom) and five Latin American countries (Argentina, Colombia, Chile, Mexico and Peru), led by the CIBER research team of the University Hospital of Getafe (Madrid, Spain) has launched an ambitious project that will analyze and quantify the effects of a balanced diet and an exercise and education program on the functional capacity and quality of life of adults over 65 with diabetes in Latin America.

Obesity and sedentary life are factors that contribute to the onset of type 2 diabetes. Diabetes in older adults is associated with the development of frail diabetes, which, if left to evolve, can lead to functional deterioration and disability.

Once the success of this intervention is evaluated in the participating centers of these five countries, the program will be transferred to the rest of the Latin American countries, so as to be integrated into clinical practice.

This project consists of a clinical trial in which more than 1,000 frail or pre-frail diabetic patients will be evaluated for the effectiveness of a one year multidimensional approach to care, consisting of an exercise program adapted to their physical capacity, a nutrition program, with individually defined glycemic control goals. Results on the functional capacity and quality of life of this approach will be evaluated, in comparison with normal medical practice procedures.

Utilising a device that is similar to a digital clock, a highly innovative technology, the degree of compliance with the physical activity program will be evaluated. In addition, an economic impact analysis will be carried out both for those affected and for those who finance it, for governments and for society.

A study of similar characteristics (MIDFRAIL Study) has been recently implemented in 7 European countries by another consortium formed by some of the current participants, also led by the University Hospital of Getafe, and demonstrates, qualitatively and quantitatively, the improvement in the functional capacity and quality of life of the participants of the intervention group, as well as the delay in the appearance of associated complications and the improvement or preservation of functional autonomy. Likewise, the annual health savings were quantified as a result of this improvement, resulting in a saving of about 800 American Dollars per patient.

Diabetes is among the top five causes of death by disease and is estimated to affect some 425 million people worldwide with a significant upward trend forecasted to around 630 million by 2045.

In Central and South America the International Diabetes Federation reported that there are 26 million diabetics, an increase to 42 million is expected for the year 2045. It was responsible for some 200,000 deaths in 2017 and has resulted in a health cost of 30,000 million American dollars.

In that same year of 2017, the number of people over 65 with diabetes reached an average of 8 million people. Accompanying this global upward trend, an increase to 20 million is expected for the year 2045 in the region.

Mexico and Brazil have the highest proportion of older adults with diabetes in Latin America. It is estimated that by the year 2045 they will occupy the 4th and 5th place worldwide after China, India and the United States.

If the objectives of the DIBFRAIL LATAM study are reached, an improvement in the functional status and greater autonomy of the people involved will be achieved, and its scaling to the rest of the countries in the region will have a beneficial impact on the quality of life of a progressively growing population and in the health economies of the region.

Group of representatives of the Diabfrail LatAm project, Madrid January 2019