Top Health Tools
Top Health Tools

Top Reports
Top Reports
Top Articles
Top Articles

Top Reviews
Top Reviews
Diet and Exercise Can
Dramatically Reduce Diabetes

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Eating a healthy diet and exercising have long been thought to reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes, but new study findings confirm that such lifestyle changes can have a big payoff for people at risk of developing the disease.

In their study, Finnish researchers found that diet and exercise counseling resulted in a 58% reduction in diabetes risk among people who are prime candidates for developing the condition, which is associated with obesity and sedentary lifestyle.

The more lifestyle changes people make, the better. But achieving at least some changes is better than not trying at all. For example, weight loss does not appear to be an absolutely essential part of the equation, the report indicates.

Although even modest weight loss conferred a much lower risk of diabetes, those who participated in four hours of exercise per week--even if they did not achieve their weight loss goal--had a reduction in diabetes risk, the investigators found.

``It is likely that any type of physical activity--whether sports, household work, gardening or work-related physical activity--is similarly beneficial in preventing diabetes,'' according to lead author Dr. Jaakko Tuomilehto of the National Public Health Institute in Helsinki and colleagues.

The study participants included 522 middle-aged, overweight adults with impaired glucose tolerance--a harbinger of diabetes. The patients in the intervention group met with a nutritionist seven times in the first year and every three months afterward. They were given one-on-one counseling aimed at reducing weight, exercising more, eating less fatty foods and boosting intake of fiber-rich foods such as fruits, vegetables, oatmeal and bran cereal.

A second group, the ``control'' group, was given written information about the benefits of eating a healthier diet and getting more exercise, but did not participate in a specific program.

After 2 years, the men and women in the intervention group lost nearly 8 pounds on average, while those in the control group lost only about 2 pounds.

After 3 years, a total of 27 people (3% per year) in the intervention group and 59 people (6% per year) in the control group developed diabetes--a risk reduction of 58% for those in the treatment group, according to the report in the May 3rd issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.

Changing eating habits and increasing exercise may be daunting, but the study shows that even modest alterations in lifestyle have a clear benefit.

``It is commonly argued that it is difficult to change the lifestyle of obese and sedentary people, but such pessimism may not be justified,'' Tuomilehto and colleagues write.

``The reasonably low dropout rate in our study also indicates that subjects with impaired glucose tolerance are willing and able to participate in a demanding intervention program if it is made available to them,'' the authors conclude.

It is not clear how long the participants could stick with their new lifestyle, Drs. P. Antonio Tataranni and Clifton Bogardus of the National Institutes of Health, note in an accompanying editorial.

They write that ``most people do not maintain their weight loss after participating in weight-control programs.'' However, if more studies confirm the findings, it might be reasonable to ''consider whether such intervention programs should be routinely covered by insurance companies and made more broadly available in primary care settings,'' the editorialists add.

Type 2 diabetes occurs when the body loses its sensitivity to insulin, the blood sugar-regulating hormone. When this occurs, blood sugar, or glucose, rises to levels that can--over time--increase a person's risk of developing heart disease, kidney failure, nerve damage and blindness.

More than 14 million Americans are estimated to have the disease and one third of these cases are believed to be undiagnosed, according to the American Diabetes Association.

SOURCE: The New England Journal of Medicine 2001;344:1343-1350, 1390-

Reference Source 89


This site is owned and operated by 1999-2016. All Rights Reserved. All content on this site may be copied, without permission, whether reproduced digitally or in print, provided copyright, reference and source information are intact and use is strictly for not-for-profit purposes. Please review our copyright policy for full details.
volunteerDonateWrite For Us
Stay Connected With Our Newsletter