Type II diabetes can be effectively fought in the communities where people live, not just in clinical settings, according to a new study published today in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. The study, conducted by Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, is the largest follow-up study to confirm similar findings from the National Institutes of Health’s Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), which showed that it’s possible for lifestyle changes like losing weight to reduce the rate of diabetes by 58 percent.
It’s a timely report, considering that, earlier in March, the American Diabetes Association (ADA) released an analysis showing that diabetes cost Americans $245 billion in 2012. With one in 10 health care dollars being spent on diabetes and its complications, not to mention the rising toll of human suffering, there’s an urgent need to figure out a practical way to prevent or at least delay the onset of type II diabetes.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) explained that the earlier DPP study was a large-scale randomized clinical trial that involved more than 3,200 adults from more than 27 different clinics. They were broken into three groups, one of which had community support for intensive lifestyle changes like eating well and exercising 30 minutes a day five days a week.
The other two groups received standard medical care in a clinical setting. One group was prescribed metformin, while the other group was given a placebo.
The metformin worked. It reduced the chances of developing type II diabetes by 31 percent. But the 58 percent risk reduction shown by community-based lifestyle changes was even better.
What’s new about the Wake Forest study is that it showed the lifestyle changes could be effectively guided by health workers in community settings like parks and recreation centers rather than by medical technicians and doctors in clinical settings.
The team followed 301 subjects for two years. One group was helped with the lifestyle changes, while the second received traditional care. It’s worth noting that the doctors for the second group were allowed to advise subjects that they should make the lifestyle changes.
The percentage of patients who lost at least five percent of their body weight and lowered their risk of type II diabetes was close to half of the first group. But only 15 percent of the second group achieved that goal.
The takeaway? Your doctors can tell you to eat right and exercise until they’re blue in the face, but they can’t run you down and force you to follow through.
It might take hands-on peer pressure from a community group, community health care worker, or even a personal trainer to support you in your fight to lower your risk of diabetes.
[US Navy photo for diabetes awareness by Culinary Specialist 2nd Class Michelle Pereira]