In the study performed by the US researchers and published in the National Diabetes Information Clearinghouse (NDIC) in October 2008, a total of 3,234 overweight people participated in a three-year diabetes prevention program. The participants were segregated into three groups: The first group, called the lifestyle intervention group, received intensive training in diet, physical activity, and behavior modification. By eating less fat and fewer calories and exercising for a total of 150 minutes a week, they aimed to lose 7 percent of their body weight and maintain that loss. The second group took the popular anti-diabetic drug Metformin (850mg twice a day), and the third receiving a placebo (an inert sugar-type pill labeled exactly like the Metformin drug). The Metformin and placebo groups also received information about diet and exercise but no intensive motivational counseling. At the beginning there was also a fourth group receiving the drug Troglitazone (Rezulin). This group was discontinued when it was discovered that Rezulin has the potential to cause serious liver damage.

After concluding the three-year prevention program, all participants had access to ongoing lifestyle coaching and were frequently monitored regarding their glucose blood levels over a period of ten years.

Dieters gather the most benefit

The study clearly shows that overweight people reducing their weight by 7 percent, combined with a 30 minute daily exercise program, achieve a reduction of developing Type 2 diabetes by 58 percent compared with the people of the placebo group. Weight loss and physical activity improve the body’s ability to use insulin and process glucose and thus reduce the risk of developing diabetes. This finding was true for both men and women and across all participating ethnic groups. Weight reduction in particular was beneficial for participants over 60 years who achieved this way a diabetes risk reduction of 71 percent.

The group applying Metformin also showed a significant diabetes 2 risk reduction of 31 percent. Metformin was found to be most effective in men and women between 25 and 44 years and in those with a body mass index of 35 or higher (i.e. with at least 60 pounds overweight) and least effective in people over 45 years old.

Further analysis of the data also have added to the evidence that changes in diet and physical activity leading to weight loss not only reduce diabetes risk but also risk of cardiovascular diseases, including high blood pressure and metabolic syndrome. Participants in the lifestyle intervention group who did not have metabolic syndrome at the beginning of the study €”about half of the participants €”were less likely to develop it than those in the other groups.

This study is one more proof of the importance of weight control and physical exercises for personal wellness and good health. It clearly shows that lifestyle factors (obesity and sedentary lifestyle) are very important in triggering the genetic elements that cause Type 2 diabetes. People having somebody in the family suffering this disease should pay special attention to these results and considering them as a motivation for applying a rigorous weight control and routinely physical training program.

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