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Lifestyle Changes Effective in Protecting Against Type II Diabetes

Pharmacological and Lifestyle Interventions to Prevent or Delay Type 2 Diabetes Mellitus in Individuals with Impaired Glucose

LEICESTER, England, Jan. 19, 2007--Changing to a healthier lifestyle appears to be at least as effective as taking prescription drugs in reducing the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, says a new BMJ study conducted by researchers in the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester.

Type 2 diabetes is a growing problem – in England around 1.3 million people have diabetes and around 5% of total NHS resources are used for the care of people with diabetes.

Researchers from the University of Leicester reviewed studies involving over 8000 people which measured the effects of different interventions – lifestyle, diabetes drugs and anti-obesity drugs – on people with impaired glucose tolerance (1). They found that lifestyle changes, e.g. switching to a healthier diet and increasing exercise to be at least as effective as taking prescription drugs.  On average, lifestyle changes helped to reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes by around half. Lifestyle changes were also less likely to have adverse side-effects. However, the researchers say that both lifestyle changes and prescription drug taking must be sustained in order to prevent the development of Type 2 diabetes.

The authors say that as global rates of Type 2 diabetes are likely to double by 2030, interventions to prevent the condition will have an important role to play in future health policies. The study findings have large implications for public health policy, however, the authors note that if lifestyle changes are to be truly effective more needs to be done to support people to adopt healthier lifestyles.

This study forms part of a larger research project on Evidence Synthesis Methods for Public Health Policy Decision Making based within the Department of Health Sciences at the University of Leicester. It is funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Medical Research Council (MRC) as part of their joint Public Health Initiative.

Professor Keith Abrams, one of the lead researchers on the project said:

‘This study shows that either adopting lifestyle changes or being prescribed appropriate medication for people with IGT significantly reduces the rate at which they will develop Type 2 diabetes. We are now investigating what the optimum screening strategy is for identifying people with IGT, and what the long term clinical and cost-effectiveness implications are of both screening and treatment.’


Notes to editors

People with impaired glucose tolerance have a high risk of developing type II diabetes


Professor Keith Abrams, Professor of Medical Statistics, Centre for Biostatistics and Genetic Epidemiology, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester, tel: 0116 229 7266

Dr Kamlesh Khunti Clinical Senior Lecturer, Division of General Practice and Primary Health Care, Department of Health Sciences, University of Leicester. tel: 0116 258 4367


Ather Mirza
Director of Press and Publications
University of Leicester
University Road
tel: 0116 252 3335
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Posted: January 2007