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The Diabetes Prevention Program Shows Results

The Dietary Prevention Program (DPP), funded by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta has shown results. The program began in 1996 after 2 years of planning. After 3 years of studying 3,000 people at risk for Diabetes, the evidence is finally out. The program was started because Diabetes is on the rise; type 1, type 2 and prediabetes have been increasing at alarming rates. Both prevalence and incidence are on the rise in both adults and adolescents. Adolescents with Diabetes are growing at a fast pace. Now 1.82 out of 1,000 adolescents suffer from Diabetes, a disease that is mostly preventable. The rise in adolescent Diabetic victims is due to mainly 2 factors; overweight and central adiposity (fat in the center of the body). Both of these factors are due to lifestyle, a major factor in the onset of Diabetes.

In addition to health concerns, monetary concerns are also a factor in aiding Diabetes Prevention Programs. Diabetes care cost the United States over $132 billion; an amount that could be better used if prevention is the focus in medical care instead of reaction as the focus.

The study had many components and goals. The study participants were followed over the 3 years and will be continued to be followed on the continuing study called the Look AHEAD (Action for Health and Diabetes) trial. Study participants set goals. The main goal of the study was to see if people at risk for developing Diabetes can delay the onset of Diabetes by losing and maintaining weight and doing exercise.

The study participants set attainable weight loss goals of losing 7% of their weight in an assigned time period. They had both individual and group sessions with lifestyle counselors and did 150 minutes of physical exercise a week. As far as nutrition, they counted fat grams with the addition of calorie counting as needed. They also worked on their individual behaviors that may be preventing them from reaching their goals.

The outcomes of the study are exiting for anyone who wants to decrease their risk of developing Diabetes and saving their life. The outcome showed that Lifestyle Intervention was highly effective in delaying the onset of Diabetes. Weight loss was the number 1 way to decrease the risk, with physical activity coming in a close second. Wow, if only 7% weight loss showed this great outcome, 10% weight loss would probably show an even better outcome. This will be further studied in the follow-up.

Health care providers are using this evidence that lifestyle change will decrease the risk of developing Diabetes by focusing on 3 key areas:

1. Decreasing risk of developing Diabetes (obesity, sedentary lifestyle)
2. Decreasing the ABC's-A1C (hemoglobin), Blood Pressure, Cholesterol
3. Decreasing the complications for those who already developed Diabetes.

Health care providers can work with patients before they become at risk by screening them about their diet and physical activity in a routine visit. The CDC is looking at programs like the Diabetes Prevention Program for places like YMCA's, medical fitness facilities and employee worksites. So spread the word, you can keep yourself from becoming a statistic in the world of growing Diabetics by maintaining weight and exercising. Start with a small goal of losing 7% of your weight if you are overweight and take it from there.

Reference: Journal of the American Dietetic Association; April 2008.

Shari Portnoy, MPH, RD, LD/N is a Registered and Licensed Dietitian. She holds degrees in both Nutrition and Public Health and has completed the U.S. Food Laws course at the Michigan State University Institute of Food Laws. She has been a featured speaker at the American Culinary Federation National Convention and a board member of the American Dietetic Association.


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