Wednesday, May 8, 2013

The Ability to Prevent Diabetes with Medications or Lifestyle Changes

Whether or not you believe in fate, you may be worried that type 2 diabetes is inevitable for you. The situation may be that you are currently prediabetic, your parents and/or siblings have diabetes, or that diabetes is extremely common among people of your ethnicity. 

In other words, you're tied to the tracks and the diabetes train is coming through.

If this is true, your actions are're going to get diabetes regardless. Let's see what research has to say about this.

The Diabetes Prevention Program

The Diabetes Prevention Program was a study by George Washington University that took place in the late 1990s [1]. In this study, over 3,000 prediabetic men and women (average fasting blood glucose of 105 mg/dl) were randomly split into one of three groups: a medicated group (MED), a lifestyle group (LS), or a control group (CON).

The MED group took the popular diabetic medication Metformin. The LS group was recommended to participate in 150 minutes of physical activity per week, reduce their total food intake, and follow generic dietary advice (i.e. eat more fruits and vegetables). The control group was given a placebo pill.

After three years, the results below were found.

The researchers combined each year lived by all of the 3,234 participants during the study. Then, they took the number of diabetes diagnoses per group and came up with the numbers displayed above.

As you see, the LS group had a much lower diagnosis rate than the CON ("no treatment") or MED groups. This difference becomes even more prominent with age.

Overall, the MED group reduced the rate of diabetes by 31% when compared to the CON group. The LS group reduced the risk of diabetes by 58%. 

These results are even more impressive than you may think. Less than two-thirds of the LS group were meeting the recommended goal of 150 minutes of weekly physical activity. In addition, the dietary and exercise recommendations were, in my opinion, very generic and far from ideal. If given more effective recommendations for nutrition and exercise, the risk reduction could be much greater than 58%.

 My Take-Home Messages

These are the messages you should take from this study:

  1. Improving your lifestyle is an effective way to prevent diabetes, even when diabetes is knocking on your doorstep.
  2. If changing your lifestyle can prevent diabetes, then it stands to reason that your lifestyle could cause diabetes.

The second conclusion is not meant to place blame. No one wants to intentionally develop diabetes. The point should be empowering to you. If your blood sugar is increasing, you can take yourself out of the control group and move yourself into the lifestyle group. You have the power to choose your outcome.

Use your power wisely.

No comments: