Biology, ecology and biomedical science at Brighton

University of Brighton biosciences blog

New way to tackle diabetes and obesity 

A pioneering scheme to reverse diabetes by allowing people to monitor their own metabolism rates was among the healthcare initiatives discussed at the University of Brighton’s Healthy Futures event.

Dr Wendy MacFarlane, Head of the Diabetes Research Group at the University, presented a talk about how Continuous Glucose Monitoring Systems (CGMS) – worn on a patient’s abdomen – can be used to build personal profiles based on an individual’s blood glucose levels and their metabolism. 

The scheme, entitled GlycoTrain, will be of particular relevance to people at risk of Type 2 diabetes or those who want to lose weight. GlycoTrain can help reverse the effects of diabetes and allow users to build a personalised diet and fitness plan. 

Dr MacFarlane and her team at the University will ask patients to document their eating and exercise patterns, moods and sleep habits in a diary. Staff can then use these details to create a specific programme for each person and advise them on what areas to prioritise in the effort towards improved health and better management of their condition.

The initiative is currently being trialled by Dr MacFarlane and volunteers can sign up to participate by emailing 

Dr MacFarlane said: “It’s about giving people control over their metabolism. We’re working with people at a very high risk of Type 2 diabetes or who are trying to get their weight under control.

“With kids who drink a lot of fizzy pop, for example, their blood glucose levels soar – and once they can see that, they understand. The Continuous Glucose Monitoring System helps people understand their own metabolism.”

During the trial period, University staff will use advanced software to collate the glucose data from the CGMS and individual diary entries. They can then decide the best approach in each case. 

Dr MacFarlane said: “Everyone reacts differently to different foods, and it’s the same with exercise. The profiles we generate will tell us the best form of exercise and diet for you.

“If you’re trying to lose weight or reverse diabetes, understanding everything that’s happening to your metabolism is an extraordinary thing. The key message is that Type 2 diabetes is reversible. Once you see your own metabolism, you can see why certain behaviours are damaging.”

  • • Dr Wendy MacFarlane presented the GlycoTrain scheme at the University of Brighton’s Healthy Futures Showcase. The event saw delegates from academia, the health industry and the business world converge at the University to share innovative health ideas.

For more information on what was discussed at Healthy Futures visit:

Stephanie Thomson • July 9, 2018

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