New Data Shows Virta Closes Gaps in Diabetes Care for Underserved Populations

Published on 
April 26, 2024
June 26, 2023
Virta Health
Virta Health
Virta Health

Across all neighborhood socioeconomic conditions, Virta members achieved significant reductions in blood sugar while eliminating diabetes medications like insulin

Virta Health, the leader in type 2 diabetes reversal, released real-world data at the American Diabetes Association’s 83rd Scientific Sessions demonstrating how its approach is narrowing gaps in care. The research highlights Virta’s impact on health equity, showing significant health improvement and medication reduction for members living across the most and least disadvantaged neighborhoods in the U.S.

Diabetes is one of America’s most pressing health equity issues. The condition disproportionately affects racial and ethnic minorities and those living in low-income areas. Further, those with financial hardships are more likely to be prescribed diabetes drugs that are older and harder to manage—such as insulin and sulfonylureas—due to affordability and access

With more complex medication regimens, lower-income patients are more likely to be hospitalized and experience severe diabetes complications. This creates a cycle of higher costs, worse outcomes, and even increased medical debt that is devastating communities and worsening inequities. 

New research shows that Virta’s approach can narrow these gaps by helping members achieve better metabolic health while reducing or even eliminating the need for medications like insulin. 

Virta studied a random sample of nearly 20,000 members grouped by Area Deprivation Index (ADI), a measure of neighborhood socioeconomic conditions. Reflecting nationwide trends, those living in the most disadvantaged areas had higher blood sugar levels at baseline and were more often prescribed more complex, lower-cost diabetes medications with a greater risk of low blood sugar (hypoglycemia). 

Yet, at one year, all members saw significant health improvement and medication deprescription with Virta’s diabetes reversal approach, regardless of neighborhood socioeconomic conditions. Key findings at one year include: 

  • Blood sugar reduction: Across all groups, members achieved at least a 1.1% decrease in A1c (a measure of blood sugar). Every one-point decrease in A1c reduces the risk of long-term diabetes complications—such as eye, kidney, and nerve disease—by up to 40%
  • Medication deprescription: Medications requiring hard-to-follow regimens and a higher risk of serious side effects were deprescribed at high rates across all groups. At one year, insulin prescriptions fell by 38% or more, and sulfonylureas by at least 77%. Notably, more disadvantaged groups (by ADI) had these medications reduced at greater rates, narrowing inequitable gaps.
  • Clinically-significant weight loss: Across all groups, members saw 7% weight loss on average (well above 5%, which is considered clinically significant by the FDA). 

These findings are extremely promising and show the potential of Virta’s approach to close disparities in diabetes care and improve outcomes at scale. 

“While there’s much discussion around improving health equity in diabetes, actual solutions are sparse,” said Dr. Michael Lenoir, President of the African American Wellness Project and former President of the National Medical Association. “That’s what makes these findings so exciting—they show definitively that Virta’s approach can narrow or even eliminate disparities in diabetes care.”

Virta member Sheila Miner, a Navy veteran who lives in Pensacola, Florida—considered one of the more disadvantaged areas in the U.S. by ADI—experienced this firsthand. 

“I’m half Puerto Rican, half Barbadian, and diabetes has run rampant in my family and my community for generations—resulting in amputations and even death for several of my closest family members. I was determined to break that cycle. Through modifying my lifestyle with Virta, along with many of my favorite Caribbean recipes, I’ve now reversed my diabetes, lost over 20 pounds, and regained my energy. The diabetes epidemic in my family stops with me.” 

Review the full abstract on the ADA website here

This blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not meant to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition or any advice relating to your health. View full disclaimer

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