Exploring the Impact of Dawn Phenomenon on Glucose-Guided Eating Thresholds in Individuals With Type 2 Diabetes Using Continuous Glucose Monitoring: Observational Study

Michelle R. Jospe, Kari M. Marano, Arianna R. Bedoya, Nick L. Behrens, Lacey Cigan, Vanessa Villegas, Michelle F. Magee, David G. Marrero, Kelli M. Richardson, Yue Liao, Susan M. Schembre

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Glucose-guided eating (GGE) improves metabolic markers of chronic disease risk, including insulin resistance, in adults without diabetes. GGE is a timed eating paradigm that relies on experiencing feelings of hunger and having a preprandial glucose level below a personalized threshold computed from 2 consecutive morning fasting glucose levels. The dawn phenomenon (DP), which results in elevated morning preprandial glucose levels, could cause typically derived GGE thresholds to be unacceptable or ineffective among people with type 2 diabetes (T2DM). Objective: The aim of this study is to quantify the incidence and day-to-day variability in the magnitude of DP and examine its effect on morning preprandial glucose levels as a preliminary test of the feasibility of GGE in adults with T2DM. Methods: Study participants wore a single-blinded Dexcom G6 Pro continuous glucose monitoring (CGM) system for up to 10 days. First and last eating times and any overnight eating were reported using daily surveys over the study duration. DP was expressed as a dichotomous variable at the day level (DP day vs non-DP day) and as a continuous variable reflecting the percent of days DP was experienced on a valid day. A valid day was defined as having no reported overnight eating (between midnight and 6 AM). ∂ Glucose was computed as the difference in nocturnal glucose nadir (between midnight and 6 AM) to morning preprandial glucose levels. ∂ Glucose ≥20 mg/dL constituted a DP day. Using multilevel modeling, we examined the between- and within-person effects of DP on morning preprandial glucose and the effect of evening eating times on DP. Results: In total, 21 adults (59% female, 13/21, 62%) with non–insulin-treated T2DM wore a CGM for an average of 10.5 (SD 1.1) days. Twenty out of 21 participants (95%) experienced DP for at least 1 day, with an average of 51% of days (SD 27.2, range 0%-100%). The mean ∂ glucose was 23.7 (SD 13.2) mg/dL. People who experience DP more frequently had a morning preprandial glucose level that was 54.1 (95% CI 17.0-83.9, P<.001) mg/dL higher than those who experienced DP less frequently. For within-person effect, morning preprandial glucose levels were 12.1 (95% CI 6.3-17.8, P=.008) mg/dL higher on a DP day than on a non-DP day. The association between ∂ glucose and preprandial glucose levels was 0.50 (95% CI 0.37-0.60, P<.001). There was no effect of the last eating time on DP. Conclusions: DP was experienced by most study participants regardless of last eating times. The magnitude of the within-person effect of DP on morning preprandial glucose levels was meaningful in the context of GGE. Alternative approaches for determining acceptable and effective GGE thresholds for people with T2DM should be explored and evaluated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere46034
JournalJMIR Formative Research
StatePublished - 2023


  • appetite
  • appetite regulation
  • blood glucose self-monitoring
  • blood sugar
  • continuous glucose monitoring
  • dawn phenomenon
  • diabetes
  • diabetic
  • eating behavior
  • eating timing
  • food intake regulation
  • glucose
  • glucose-guided eating
  • glycemic control
  • mobile phone
  • monitoring
  • type 2
  • type 2 diabetes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Health Informatics


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