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Promoting weight loss 'better than drugs' for diabetes prevention

By Lilian Anekwe

Lifestyle interventions are better than drugs at preventing the onset of type 2 diabetes in at-risk patients, a major new analysis concludes.

Enrolling patients on lifestyle interventions to promote weight loss can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes by four years and has effects that last a decade, researchers found.

The study, published in The Lancet last week, was a follow-up of the Diabetes Prevention Program, a trial randomising at-risk patients to intensive lifestyle intervention, metformin or placebo.

It found the incidence of type 2 diabetes was delayed by twice as long with lifestyle interventions as the two years seen in patients prescribed metformin.

All 6,800 patients in the follow-up group were offered lifestyle interventions for eight years, on top of the original interventions. Diabetes incidence in the former metformin and placebo groups fell to similar rates to in the original lifestyle group.

Incidence in the 10 years since the trial began fell by 34% in the lifestyle group and 18% with metformin compared with placebo.

Dr William Knowler, chief of the diabetes epidemiology and clinical research section of the National Institutes of Health in Phoenix, in the US, concluded it was feasible for GPs to ‘interrupt the worsening of hyperglycaemia in overweight and other at-risk patients'.

Dr Brian Karet, a diabetes GPSI in Bradford and a primary care advisor to Diabetes UK, said: ‘It's probably easier for some people to swallow a pill than put on a lyrca suit and go to the gym. But it's quite easy to achieve things such as walking upstairs instead of taking the lift. If you reduce your weight you reduce your risk of diabetes - simple as that.'

The study found enrolling patients on lifestyle interventions to promote weight loss delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes by four years The study found enrolling patients on lifestyle interventions to promote weight loss delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes by four years

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