Although we cannot change your genetic risk for developing type 2 diabetes, we do know that even modest exercise and weight loss can delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes. A landmark research study, conducted by the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) in the United States in the 1990s, showed that when people modified their risk factors for type 2 diabetes, they reduced their chance of developing the condition. Similar results have been shown in Finland.
Results of the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP)
In the DPP study, people with pre-diabetes were enrolled and assigned to 3 different treatments:
- Intensive lifestyle changes – exercise (30 minutes, 5 days a week), a healthy diet, and weight loss (loss of 7% of initial weight)
- The diabetes drug, Metformin
- An inactive placebo disguised as Metformin
The group that made lifestyle changes was 58% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group. And the group that took Metformin was 31% less likely to develop diabetes compared to the placebo group.
In other words, lifestyle changes and Metformin therapy can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes. Lifestyle changes (weight loss, healthy diet and activity) are the most effective intervention.