Diet and Exercise Outperform Drugs in Type 2 Diabetes

According to research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (February 7, 2002; 346:393-403), shows that diet and exercise can reduce the risk of getting type 2 diabetes. About one adult in 12 in the United States has the disease. Type 2 diabetes is the result of the body becoming insensitive to insulin. Excess sugar consumption, sedentary lifestyle and obesity are all risk factors for type 2 diabetes. Type 1 diabetes is when the body loses the ability to produce insulin.

The drug, Glucophage can act to help prevent type 2 diabetes. This research, however, shows that patients at risk for diabetes respond better to lifestyle changes. Over three thousand non-diabetic subjects, with a body mass index averaging 34 (a body mass index higher than 30 is considered obese) were given either a placebo, 850 mg. of Glucophage twice daily or a program designed to help them to lose at least 7% of their weight (including an hour and a half of physical activity each week).

Upon follow-up, three years later, the group with the lifestyle changes had a 58% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people in the placebo group. Those given Glucophage cut their diabetes risk by 31%. The weight-loss and exercise outperformed the drug. The study demonstrates that type 2 diabetes is preventable. It is not necessary to wait until a person has the disease to do something about it.

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