Washington University LogoScientists from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis claim that intensive lifestyle changes aimed at modest weight loss seem to have reduced the rate of developing type 2 diabetes by approximately 34 percent over 10 years in people at high possibility for the disease. They were believed to have established the results from the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study (DPPOS).

During the three-year DPP study, the authors gathered more than 3,200 overweight or obese adults with elevated blood glucose levels, which set them to an increased likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes. Approximately forty-five percent of participants were believed to have been from minority groups extremely affected by type 2 diabetes namely African-Americans, Hispanic Americans, Asian Americans, Pacific Islanders and American Indians.

DPPOS is known to be a 10-year follow-up study of patients who participated in the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The DPPOS found that patients at high risk for developing type 2 diabetes who made lifestyle changes also appear to have low blood pressure and triglyceride levels. Furthermore, the findings of the study revealed that those treated with the oral diabetes drug metformin, rather than intensive lifestyle changes may perhaps have reduced the chances of developing diabetes by neraly 18 percent after 10 years in contrast to a placebo.

The DPP findings further showed that rigorous lifestyle changes seem to have reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by about 58 percent after three years. Apparently, these intensive lifestyle changes include exercise, reducing calories and fat intake and frequent interaction with health-care professionals. Moreover, those who were assigned two daily doses of metformin but no lifestyle changes appeared to have decreased the development of the disease by nearly 31 percent over the same period.

Chief author of both the studies at the Washington University School of Medicine, Neil H. White, M.D., a Washington University pediatric diabetes specialist at St. Louis Children’s Hospital said that, “Changing one’s lifestyle to better health habits, including those aimed at reduced weight, a better diet and more exercise, will have long-term and sustained impact on overall health, at least in preventing diabetes and hopefully in preventing complications associated with diabetes and prediabetes. Even if the weight loss is slight, it will have huge benefits.”

It was estimated that in the United States, about 24 million adults have diabetes, and up to 95 percent of them have type 2 diabetes. This type of diabetes is known to be strongly associated with obesity, inactivity, family history of diabetes, history of gestational diabetes, impaired glucose metabolism and racial or ethnic background.

The occurrence of diabetes seems to have more than doubled in the last 30 years, due in large part to the rise in obesity. An added 57 million overweight adults appear to have glucose levels that are higher than normal but not yet in the diabetic range. Supposedly, this condition considerably increases the risk of a heart attack or stroke and of developing type 2 diabetes.

“In 10 years, participants in the lifestyle changes group delayed type 2 diabetes by about four years compared with placebo, and those in the metformin group delayed it by two years. The benefits of intensive lifestyle changes were especially pronounced in the elderly. People age 60 and older lowered their rate of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years by about half,” says study chair David M. Nathan, M.D., of Massachusetts General Hospital.

White claimed that the participants in the DPPOS will be followed for another five years in order to obtain information on complications associated with diabetes and prediabetes over time, including eye, kidney and heart disease.

This study is called as ‘Ten-Year Follow-up of Diabetes Incidence and Weight Loss in the Diabetes Prevention Program: The Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study.’

The findings of the study have been published in the journal, Lancet.