Pre-Diabetes - Diet & Exercise Lowers Risk of Type 2

Women jogging outside
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People diagnosed with prediabetes (impaired glucose tolerance) can reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by losing just 5 to 7 percent of their body weight and exercising regularly, according to a clinical study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

The study, "The Diabetes Prevention Program," (DPP) took place in 2002 and looked at whether a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes in people who had prediabetes could be prevented or delayed either by diet and exercise changes or by taking an oral diabetes medication.

One group of participants followed a low-fat, low-calorie diet and exercised a total of 150 minutes a week (usually broken into blocks of 30 minutes, 5 times a week). Their goal was to lose 7 percent of their total body weight. For example, a 200-pound woman would aim to lose 14 pounds for a final weight of 186 pounds. A second group took the diabetes medication metformin (Glucophage) 850 mg. twice a day. A third group was given a placebo. Although both of those groups were given information about diet and exercise, they did not receive counseling about following the advice.

The results of the DPP study showed that a 5- to 7-percent weight loss reduced the risk of developing diabetes by 58 percent in the lifestyle intervention group. The group that received metformin had a 31 percent lower occurrence of type 2 diabetes.

According to Allen Spiegel, M.D., and director of the NIDDK, "Not only did changes in diet and physical activity prevent or delay the development of diabetes, they actually restored normal glucose levels in many people who had impaired glucose tolerance. These findings bring us closer to the goal of containing and ultimately reversing the epidemic of type 2 diabetes in this country."

Of the over 21 million people in the U.S. who have diabetes, 95 percent have type 2. Obesity is one of the major risk factors for type 2. People who are obese have five times the risk of diabetes than those who are a normal weight. Other risk factors include a sedentary lifestyle, family history, and ethnicity.


"Diet and Exercise Delay Diabetes and Normalize Blood Glucose." National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. 06, Feb. 2002. National Institutes of Health. 13 Feb 2007.

"Diabetes Prevention Program Fact Sheet." National Diabetes Education Program. July 2004. Department of Health and Human Services. 13 Feb 2007.

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