Post-menopausal women hoping to avert type 2 diabetes stand a better chance of success if they rely on losing weight rather than on a low-fat diet, according to results of a 12-year study conducted by the Fred Hutchison Cancer Research Center in Seattle.
Researchers started with 48,835 diabetes-free post-menopausal women between 50 and 79 years of age and tracked the rate at which they acquired the disease over the course of the study.
The women were divided into two groups: the control group continued with their usual diet, while the second group was put on a low-fat diet that reduced daily caloric intake from fat to 20 percent and increased consumption of whole grains, vegetables, and fruits. Participants understood that the diet was not offered or intended as a weight control measure.
At the end of the study, researchers found that 7.1 percent of the women on the low-fat diet had acquired diabetes, compared to 7.4 percent of the women in the control group. The difference was statistically insignificant.
The researchers also found, however, that participants among the low-fat diet group who had lost weight by decreasing their caloric intake had also reduced their risk of developing diabetes. The scientists concluded that calories and weight, not the composition of a diet, are the primary factors in the acquisition of the disease.
An abstract of the study is available at the Archives of Internal Medicine.