We spoke to Karen Jones, senior teaching fellow in our diabetes team and registered dietitian, to find out more about her role and why diet is so important when it comes to diabetes.
What was your background before coming to Warwick Medical School?
My background is as a registered dietitian, and I have spent many years working in the NHS as a renal specialist dietitian, and more recently as a specialist diabetes dietitian. I have always been interested in staff and patient education and involved in delivering patient group education in diabetes. I have delivered lectures at Warwick and been involved in teaching on an undergraduate dietetic course many years ago, and was keen to get more involved.
How do you split your time between teaching and clinical work?
I work three days a week at WMS, and continue to deliver diabetes group education. I also continue to do some dietetic clinics locally.
What do you teach on our diabetes courses?
I am course director for the CIDC course, and as such will take charge of some of the courses. I deliver the diet and lifestyle sessions on the courses, and am keen to increase the prominence of diet and lifestyle advice as part of the evidence based care of diabetes.
Why is diet so important when it comes to diabetes?
There is increasing evidence of the importance of dietary change in type 2 diabetes, and a large recent trial has shown that there is potential to put diabetes into remission if patients change their diet and lose a significant amount of weight. We also need to recognise that we should give individualised advice to patients at different stages of diabetes, and this is a skill we need to develop. There is a lot of publicity from many sources on diet, and it is important to translate all of this into evidence based advice that we can deliver to patients. Diet is an integral part of the treatment of type 1 diabetes and a good understanding of diet and insulin action is essential in managing and treating this condition.
How do you think people should be encouraged to eat more healthily?
Many factors affect how an individual eats including cost, time and ability to cook, family pressures and habits, cultural beliefs, the latest celebrity endorsed or social media craze and possibly what they are advised to eat by a health professional. Eating healthily needs to be the easiest option, and both individuals and the government along with the food industry need to make it easier to make healthy choices.
With better knowledge and the right motivation, individuals can make positive changes to improve their diet. As health professionals we can help patients to make this change to eat well, maintain a healthy weight and a good level of exercise
What do you most enjoy about teaching at Warwick?
I enjoy the variety of the work I do at Warwick, and the unexpected direction my career has taken me in. I enjoy having contact with a wider group of health professionals, and seeing them be enthused about the course they undertake at Warwick to go away and make a difference to the care of patients with diabetes in their practices.