Millions of Americans have type 2 diabetes, which is linked to poor diet and not enough physical activity. Millions more are overweight and have higher-than-normal blood sugar levels, placing them at risk of developing the disease.
But there is good news about how to prevent diabetes from a study recently published in The Lancet. Researchers found that simple lifestyle changes can delay or prevent the onset of diabetes even better than the prescription drug metformin, which is often prescribed to treat type 2 diabetes.
More than 3,200 overweight or obese adults with high blood sugar levels took part in a diabetes prevention study. They were randomly assigned to one of three groups.
One group was asked to reduce their calorie intake and exercise at least 150 minutes per week.
Another group received metformin to control their blood sugar levels. The third group received a placebo that didn't contain any active medicine.
After about three years, researchers found that lifestyle changes reduced diabetes rates more than metformin or the placebo. Because of this, the lifestyle change program was offered to all three groups for the next 6 years.
During the course of the entire study, the metformin group had an 18 percent lower diabetes rate compared with the placebo group. But those in the lifestyle change group had a 34 percent lower rate of diabetes compared with the same group.
The effect from the lifestyle measures was greatest in those who were ages 60 to 85 at the start of the study. The researchers suspect that this was because they attended more lifestyle sessions than their younger counterparts.
In terms of weight loss, people in the lifestyle group lost an average of 15 pounds in the first year of the study, though they eventually regained 10 pounds. People in the metformin group maintained a 5-pound weight loss and those who received placebo lost less than 2 pounds overall.
Even modest weight loss, such as 5 to 10 percent of your weight, can improve your health by lowering blood pressure, cholesterol, and blood sugar levels.
But choosing a weight-loss program can be hard. Look for one that encourages healthy habits that you can live with every day. When considering a program, make sure that it includes these components:
For more information on how to choose a safe and successful weight-loss program, including tips on talking with your doctor about weight loss, visit the Weight-control Information Network site.
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Your teen might be prescribed medicine for her diabetes. But pills and shots are only part of the treatment. Exercising and eating right will help keep her weight-and her disease-under control.
Studies show that whether your child has type 1 or type 2 diabetes, staying at a healthy weight can:
Make Smart Food Decisions Together
Eating right can be tough for teens. But it's key to avoiding extra pounds. You can help your child make the right choices.
Help Teens Stay Active
School sports are a great way to burn off calories and hold down weight. Teens who aren't the team type also can get the recommended 60 minutes of physical activity a day by: