cases of the most common form of diabetes can be prevented by
moderate exercise and a healthy diet, studies show.
indicates that such lifestyle changes could head off over 90 percent
of type 2 diabetes. Another says that the changes could reduce
the risk of getting the disease by 58 percent even among people
who already show signs of developing it.
no question that diabetes is a lifestyle disease, and can be prevented
by lifestyle modifications,'' said Dr. Frank B. Hu of the Harvard
School of Public Health, lead author of a major study in the Sept.
13 issue of the New England Journal of Medicine.
Hu and his
colleagues looked at data on 84,941 women in the Nurses' Health
Study, a database that Harvard researchers began to track in 1976.
None of the women had diabetes at the start of the study; 3,300
had it after 16 years.
Type 2 diabetes,
the class that accounts for 90 percent or more of all diabetes
cases, occurs when the body can't properly utilize insulin in
getting nutrients to cells. The number of diabetes cases has been
growing sharply, and federal data say about 16 million Americans
have some form of the disease.
researchers concluded 91 percent of cases among the people they
studied could have been prevented by avoiding overweight, being
active, eating right, not drinking and not smoking.
was the single strongest predictor of the metabolic disorder -
61 percent of cases could be attributed to weight problems.
factors had powerful effects, even among the overweight. Overweight
women cut their risk 24 percent simply by at least walking regularly
and favoring foods that were high in fiber but low in partially
hydrogenated oils. Such foods include french fries and commercial
of physical activity went up with the amount of exercise. Those
who did seven or more hours a week had almost a 30 percent lower
risk than did women who put in less than one half hour a week.
of healthy eating followed a similar pattern. Researchers created
a diet scorecard to account for variations in eating, and found
those who scored best had about half the diabetes risk of those
who ate worst.
study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, considered the effect
of eating and exercise patterns on 3,234 people who already had
a strong indication they were progressing toward diabetes. These
people had high levels of sugar in the blood.
intensity program of walking 30 minutes a day, coupled with a
low-fat diet that shaved off 5 percent to 7 percent of their body
weight, reduced their risk of progressing to diabetes by 58 percent.
had been followed for 3 years when the study was stopped a year
ahead of schedule because outside experts who were monitoring
the program felt the results were conclusive. Results of the National
Institutes of Health study were announced Aug. 8.
changes caused the reduced risk, said the Diabetes Prevention
Program's chair, Dr. David Nathan of Massachusetts General Hospital
are within the capacity of the average American, Nathan said.
``We were able to take a high-risk group, and they were able to
accomplish what we asked of them,'' he said. ``It worked wonderfully.''
who don't have high blood sugar should be able to summon the motivation,
Nathan said. The people in his study could not have known that
exercise and diet would work so well, but people now should know,
step is to find ways to encourage a healthier lifestyle among
those who most need it - those who are genetically at risk of
developing diabetes, said Dr. Francine Kaufman, head of endocrinology
at Childrens Hospital Los Angeles. ``This is a disease in which
the underlying genetic background is critical, and if you have
these genes, the impact of lifestyle turns these genes on or keeps
them suppressed,'' Kaufman said.
Type 2 diabetes,
once a disease of the old, has been working its way to young and
younger patients, and now is showing an alarming increase among
young people, Kaufman said.
and communities should make it easier to exercise, by creating
safe areas in which to exercise and encouraging such things as
``walk at lunch programs,'' Kaufman said. And the food industry
should do better at spelling out the nutritional risks in products,
as well as cutting back on the portion sizes, she said.
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases' diabetes
Journal abstract: https://content.nejm.org/cgi/content/abstract/345/11/790
NIH on exercise
Reference Source 102