Diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors are a global health burden and is the seventh leading cause of death in the US, costing the US economy $ 245 billion in 2012. The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) statistics reveal that 9.3% of Americans (29.1 million) have diabetes, 28% of whom (8.1 million) don’t know they have it, while 86 million have prediabetes.
A new review study, published by the Community Preventive Services Task Force, in the Annals of Internal Medicine, has specified that diet and exercise programs are more effective in reducing diabetes and cardiovascular disease risk factors. The Community Preventative Task Force consists of panels of government, academic, policy and practice-based scientists who recommended combined diet and physical activity programs for people at increased risk of type 2 diabetes, which has a greater effectiveness than usual care.
The task force defined being at risk for type 2 diabetes when high levels of blood glucose were present; but not high enough to be classed as type 2 diabetes. The reviewers evaluated 53 studies and a total of 66 programs. Thirty of the studies compared diet and physical activity programs against usual care, 12 compared intensive versus less intensive programs, and 13 reviewed single programs. Effective programs that promote diet changes and increased physical activity to reduce risk for type 2 diabetes have a number of elements, including the following:
Trainers who work directly with participants in clinics and communities for at least 3 months
Counseling, coaching and extended support
Several taught sessions on how to change diet, increase physical activity
Sessions delivered in person or via email or online, or all of these
The research findings revealed that nearly all of the diet and physical activity programs reduced incidence of type 2 diabetes and decreased body weigh and fasting blood glucose. Chronic levels of glucose in the blood affects the eyes, kidneys, nerves and heart. If untreated, it can to serious health complications, including heart disease, stroke, blindness, kidney failure and lower-extremity amputations.
Combined diet and physical activity promotion programs to prevent type 2 diabetes among persons at increased risk: a systematic review for the Community Preventive Services Task Force, Ethan M. Balk et al., Annals of Internal Medicine, doi: 10.7326/M15-0452, published online 14 July 2015.