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Almost 285 million people suffer from diabetes around the world. It is a major cause of premature illness and mortality. Its complications can be prevented by early diagnosis and treatment. A study has found muffins to be useful in the diabetes diagnosis.

Muffin Test Found to be at par with Oral Glucose Tolerance Test for Diagnosing Diabetes

Until now, physicians used to ask the patients to drink a glucose rich beverage and estimate the blood glucose levels two hours after it. This oral glucose tolerance test was helpful in diagnosing impaired glucose tolerance. But many of the patients do not like the taste of the sugary drink or report stomach problems after consuming it.

However now, patients may munch on their favorite muffins rather than drinking that sugary solution, as a new research has found the muffin test to be at par with oral glucose tolerance test for diagnosing diabetes.


The new research, which has been published in the latest edition of “Menopause- the Journal of the North American Menopause Society”, has found that instead of drinking the glucose rich beverage, eating a muffin also serves the same purpose. The patients can choose the flavor of the muffin according to their liking. It is far more palatable and is equally good for diagnosing diabetes.

The research, led by Michael L. Traub from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, New York, was a cross sectional study involving 73 post menopausal women between the ages of 42 to 58 years. After the fasting blood sample was drawn, the women were given a muffin to eat. 12 of the participants were given the standard glucose solution. Plasma glucose levels were estimated after two hours. The researchers found that muffin test was comparable to oral glucose tolerance test in sensitivity and specificity.

Testing Fasting Plasma Glucose Alone is not Sufficient to Diagnose All Cases of Diabetes

The above mentioned study also brought to light the fact that testing fasting plasma glucose alone is not sufficient to diagnose all cases of diabetes. 63% of the cases of diabetes would have been missed in this study itself, had the researchers relied only on fasting plasma glucose levels.

Although the researchers of this study found that muffins can replace oral glucose solution to diagnose impaired glucose tolerance, yet they have acknowledged the fact that the number of participants in the study was too small. Larger studies will have to be carried out in order to validate the findings of this study.


Not every doctor is enthused with the results of the study. According to the critics of the study, one can never be sure of the results as the quality of muffins varies from place to place. While giving a patient an oral glucose beverage, the doctor is sure about the quantity of glucose that has been administered.  The composition of the oral beverage to be used for testing glucose tolerance has been standardized and is the same wherever one may go. However, this is not feasible with muffins. Moreover, the shelf life of the glucose beverage is longer.

The important point which one cannot afford to miss is to detect more and more cases of diabetes in their early stages, rather than diagnosing diabetes through the associated complications. Whether is it done using oral glucose solution or through a muffin test is secondary.

  • “The "muffin test"-an alternative to the oral glucose tolerance test for detecting impaired glucose tolerance”, by Michael L. Traub et al, Menopause- the Journal of the North American Menopause Society, published online September 19, 2001, accessed on November 1, 2011. Retrieved from http://journals.lww.com/menopausejournal/pages/articleviewer.aspx?year=9000&issue=00000&article=98946&type=abstract
  • “Can a muffin help doctors diagnose diabetes?” by Genevra Pittman, Reuters, published on October 26, 2011, accessed on November 1, 2011. Retrieved from http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/10/26/us-muffin-diabetes-idUSTRE79P81R20111026?feedType=RSS&feedName=healthNews&utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+reuters%2FhealthNews+%28News+%2F+US+%2F+Health+News%29
  • Photo courtesy of etringita on Flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/etringita/5803517446