News About Avoiding Diabetes
only common sense: when people at risk for diabetes get regular
exercise, follow a low-fat diet, and lose weight, they improve
their chances of staying well. (We're talking about Type 2 diabetes,
the common form often called "adult-onset," not Type
1, once called "juvenile diabetes," in which the body
stops producing insulin.)
August "common sense" made national headlines. A study
from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) showed that relatively
simple measures can lower diabetes risk dramatically. Full results
of this study have not been published, but preliminary findings
are very impressive. Read on.
three-year study included 3,234 Americans. All were in a prediabetic
state. That is, they had impaired glucose tolerancetheir
bodies were not processing blood sugar efficiently. One group
in the experiment followed a low-fat diet with a view to losing
about 7% of their body weight during the first year, and they
exercised moderatelyhalf an hour daily. Most of them simply
walked. They got counseling about making these changes, as well
as follow-up. A second group took metformin (brand name Glucophage,
and currently in use to treat
diabetes) twice daily. A third group took placebo pills. These
other two groups got general advice about healthy habits but
no follow-up. Almost 30% of the placebo group developed diabetes
during the study. About 22% of those taking metformin did. The
most dramatic effect was in the life-style-change group, where
only 14% developed diabetesthat's a 58% reduction. The
effect was even greater in those over 60.
reported in September, a major study undertaken in Finland had
almost the same results. But nobody was certain that what applied
to the Finns would apply to the diverse American population.
The new NIH study confirms that it does. All the participants
were overweight; their average age was 51, though the age range
was 25 to 85. Almost half of them belonged to minorities that
have higher rates of diabetes (blacks, Hispanics, people of
Asian ancestry, Pacific Islanders, and Native Americans). Some
had developed diabetes during pregnancya form of diabetes
that usually corrects itself after delivery, but increases a
woman's future risk.
does this all prove?
one thing, metformin may have some use in the prevention
of diabetes, but it isn't as effective as diet, exercise, and
weight loss. And in this study, it was less effective in preventing
diabetes in older people and those who were less severely overweight.
Another drawback: the drug can cause diarrhea, and some people
had to discontinue it.
encouraging finding to emerge from the study is that the changes
needed to head off diabetes are not drasticand they work
well in all racial, ethnic, and age groups. Study participants
increased their intake of fruits and vegetables, and decreased
fat. They cut down on sweets, but didn't have to give them up
entirely. Weight loss was 5 to 7% of body weight, but nobody
had to go hungry. Walking 30 minutes a day, as one researcher
pointed out, is a far cry from having to run a marathon.
nations, particularly the U.S., are in the midst of an obesityand
hence a diabetesepidemic. More than 16 million people
already have Type 2 diabetes, and the numbers are rising. Diabetes
is dangerous and potentially disabling: it can result in kidney
failure, amputations, and blindness. Heart disease and stroke
are common complications.
this news could hardly be better. There's a way to prevent
or at least delay diabetesand it's a practical, even easy,
way. People will need instruction, along with support and encouragement.
If you think you are at riskthat is, you are overweight
and sedentaryget a blood test for diabetes. Encourage
high-risk members of your family to be tested. In fact, it is
recommended that everybody get tested beginning at age 45. However,
people at high risk, especially those belonging to a minority
group or with a strong family history, should be screened and
counseled starting at age 30.
is one bullet you may well be able to dodge.
Reference Source 98