Major Proof that You Can Prevent Type Two Diabetes
There are a lot of reasons for optimism that type two diabetes can be prevented. Through scientific research, we now have very specific information that lifestyle changes, such as diet and exercise, can effectively stop diabetes type 2.
If you have prediabetic symptoms, there is no reason to wait until you are diagnosed with diabetes. There is a lot you can do to prevent this from happening. Let us see how other people did it.
The Diabetes Prevention Program study
In the Diabetes Prevention Program study, sponsored by the National Institutes of Health, more than 3,000 overweight men and women from 27 clinical centers around the country were split into different groups. Each group was treated differently. Here is how they were treated and the results obtained from the different treatments:
- The first group received intensive training in diet, exercise, and behavior modification. They ate less fat and fewer calories and exercise for a total of 150 minutes a week.
- The second group took 850 milligrams of metformin (Glucophage) twice a day to lower their blood sugar.
- The third group received placebo pills instead of metformin. The metformin and placebo groups also received information on diet and exercise, but not intensive counseling efforts.
- The fourth group was treated with the drug troglitazone (Tezulin), but this part of the study was discontinued after researchers discovered that troglitazone could cause serious liver damage. Rezulin is no longer on the U.S. market.
All of the participants had impaired glucose tolerance or prediabetic symptoms, a major risk factor for the development of type two diabetes. In addition, 45 percent of the participants were from minority groups –African-American, Hispanic American/Latino, Asian American or Pacific Islander, or Native American- known to be at considerable risk of developing diabetes.
- Those participants who received intensive counseling on effective diet, exercise, and behavior modification reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent. The researchers think that weight loss, achieved through better eating habits and exercise, reduces the risk of diabetes by improving the ability of the body to use insulin and process glucose.
- The people taking metformin reduced their risk of developing diabetes by 31 percent. Metformin was also effective in postponing type 2 diabetes but not as effective as lifestyle modifications.
These results were powerful because they showed that losing a little weight and increasing physical activity was enough to make a difference. It is the small changes that really add up.
The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study
In this study, 522 overweight people, aged 40 to 65 years, with impaired glucose tolerance (prediabetes) were divided into two groups and followed for 3.2 years.
- The first group had an intensive lifestyle intervention. This group followed a specific five point program: get half an hour of exercise every day; lose 5 percent of their body weight; reduce fat intake to 30 percent of total calories; cut saturated fat to less than 10 percent of total calories; and eat more fiber (more fruits, veggies, and whole grains).
- The second group was given general information on diet and exercise, but non-specific plan to follow.
The results of this study were very similar to the ones from the Diabetes Prevention Program: those in the group that have intensive lifestyle intervention significantly prevented the progression to diabetes. What this tells us is that the right lifestyle changes can prevent type two diabetes.
Other studies have been done that prove that drugs can be also effective in delaying diabetes, but they are risks involved in treating diabetes with medication.
The bottom line
These two studies show that type two diabetes can be delayed or prevented with a safe, inexpensive therapy such as losing weight, changing eating habits, and exercising. If you learn that you have prediabetes, you have the opportunity to prevent or delay the development of full-blown diabetes.
It is true that it does take a serious commitment on your part to certain lifestyle changes, but these changes are possible to achieve. And the results will be extremely gratifying for you.
If you are forty-five years or older, you should consider getting tested for diabetes, especially if you are overweight. If you are younger than forty-five but are overweight and have one or more risk factors such as family history, talk to your doctor about testing.
To your health!
Emilia Klapp, R.D., B.S.