Mild weight loss could cut the risk of diabetes in half, study finds

Photo (c) Rostislav Sedlacek - Getty Images

Researchers emphasize the importance of consumers adopting healthier habits to prevent disease risk

Excess weight has been identified as one of the biggest risk factors for diabetes, and now researchers from the University of East Anglia are exploring how weight loss could benefit consumers who are most vulnerable to the condition. 

According to their findings, massive weight loss isn’t necessary to reduce the risk of diabetes. This study revealed that losing as few as two to three kilograms (or roughly seven pounds), can reduce the risk of diabetes by nearly 50 percent. 

“This trial again highlights how achieving modest weight loss through diet and physical activity changes can lead to huge benefits for people at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes,” said researcher Dr. Elizabeth Robertson. “Type 2 diabetes is a serious condition, but with the right help many cases can be prevented or delayed.” 

Creating lasting changes 

The researchers analyzed data from the Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study (NDPS), which is a prevention program designed to identify those at the highest risk of diabetes and find ways to reduce the risk of the disease. While more than 144,000 were found to be at an increased risk of type 2 diabetes, the study included data on 1,000 participants who had been given blood glucose tests to determine that they were prediabetic. 

Participants were divided into two groups for the two-year study. One group went about their daily routines as they normally would, and the second group was guided by health care professionals to make changes to their diets and exercise routines. 

The study revealed that eating healthier foods and exercising more was an effective way for those with prediabetes to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes. The researchers learned that losing around seven pounds reduced the participants’ risk of diabetes by nearly 50 percent. 

The researchers said many participants were able to stick with these changes beyond the scope of the study because they were manageable, and they wound up keeping the extra weight off long-term. 

“If you have been diagnosed with prediabetes, this approach offers a way to take a different direction in your life -- to get off the path to type 2 diabetes and onto the road to a healthier future,” said researcher Colin Greaves. 

Importance of prevention programs

Because these findings yielded such positive results, the researchers hope that more work is done to create similar diabetes prevention programs.

“Type 2 diabetes is a huge health challenge globally,” said researcher Dr. Jane Smith. “NDPS is an incredibly positive story for individuals and health care systems, and underlines the importance of providing national diabetes prevention programmes, which can use our research findings.” 

To find more information about weight loss plans for diabetes, check out ConsumerAffairs’ comprehensive list here

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