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Type-2 diabetes: diet and physical activity can prevent or delay onset

In people at high risk of type-2 diabetes, the most effective means of prevention are losing weight and increasing physical activity.

Type-2 diabetes (or non-insulin dependent diabetes) is an illness which generally occurs in adults over the age of 40 who are overweight and have a family history of diabetes, and in women who developed diabetes during pregnancy or who gave birth to a child weighing over 4.5 kg.

Studies of the effect of drug or non-drug intervention on the occurrence of type-2 diabetes show that the most effective measures are changes in lifestyle habits with the aim of losing weight (at least 7% of initial body weight), reducing consumption of fatty foods while increasing consumption of dietary fibre, and stepping up physical activity. They can cut the number of new diabetes cases by 50%, i.e. approximately 6 new cases prevented per year for 100 "glucose intolerant" people (people whose glucose levels go down more slowly than normal after absorbing large amounts of glucose).

These results show the need for improved patient supervision and support to maintain good habits.

No drug has a sufficiently positive benefit-harm balance to be recommended as a diabetes prevention treatment.

©Prescrire October 2006

Source: "Prévenir ou retarder le diabète de type 2 : diététique et activité physique pour certaines personnes" Rev Prescrire 2006 ; 26 (276) : 676-684.

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