A recent study published in the medical journal The Lancet indicates that type 2 diabetes can be reduced by changing one's diet and adding an exercise regimen, and that these interventions can have a lasting effect. Type 2 diabetes is associated with physical inactivity and obesity. It also accounts for 90 percent of diabetes cases that affect almost a quarter of a billion people worldwide. In this Chinese study, 577 adults with impaired glucose tolerance from 33 clinics were randomly assigned to a control group or an intervention group receiving either a modified diet, exercise or both. The interventions took place for 6 consecutive years. Fourteen years after their initial 6 years of intervention participants were re-evaluated. During the 20 years (6 years of intervention and 14 years post-intervention), participants with the modified diet and exercise had a 51 percent lower incidence of diabetes during their 6 years of active intervention and a 43 percent lower incidence of diabetes when viewed over the total 20 year period. The average annual incidence of diabetes was 7 percent for intervention participants versus 11 percent in control participants, with 20-year cumulative incidence of 80 percent in the intervention groups and 93 percent in the control group. In other words, many participants in the diet with exercise intervention group were able to prevent or delay diabetes for up to 14 years after the active intervention ended.
Source: The Lancet 2008; 371:1783-1789