The Mayo Clinic Health Letter for August 2012 has published three lifestyle changes that could stave off the progression of prediabetes to full-blown type 2 diabetes. The list isn’t new, but its periodic reiteration indicates that healthcare researchers and providers have settled on a simple prescription for staying diabetes-free.
The three changes are:
- Consume fewer calories and cut back on fat
- Take a brisk 30-minute daily walk (or the exercise equivalent to it) five days a week
- Lose at least seven percent of body weight (14 pounds for a 200-pound person)
Previous studies have shown that even a modest weight loss can dramatically decrease insulin resistance. The Mayo Clinic letter emphasizes that lowering insulin resistance seems to be the key to staving off the development of type 2.
The letter lists several known genetic factors that can increase the risk of developing type 2, including certain ethnicities (African American, Native American, Asian American, Hispanic, and Pacific Islander), as well as a family history of the disease. Contributing lifestyle factors include being sedentary and being overweight, especially if there is a build-up of “bad” fat around the abdomen.
The letter goes on to say that while drugs, especially metformin, can reduce the risk of progressing to type 2, metformin is least effective with adults over 45 years old and not recommended for people over 60. For all age groups, says the letter, weight loss and exercise are the best deterrents against type 2. It cites one large study, the Diabetes Prevention Program, which found that the modest lifestyle changes listed above reduced the risk of progression from prediabetes to type 2 by 71 percent among people aged 60 and older.