Preventing Diabetes One Day at a Time

Type 2 diabetes risk reduced by making multiple lifestyle improvements

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Joseph V. Madia, MD

(RxWiki News) Plenty of studies show that making certain lifestyle improvements like exercising and quitting smoking can reduce your risk of diabetes. However, it is unclear how making many lifestyle changes can impact diabetes risk.

Now, research shows that women can reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes by as much as 39 percent for every healthy lifestyle improvement they make. Similarly, men can lower their risk of diabetes by about 31 percent with each improvement made.

"Changing your lifestyle can prevent diabetes."

Dr. Jared Reis, a researcher and epidemiologist with the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, and colleagues wanted to see how making healthy changes to multiple lifestyle factors could affect a person's risk of developing type 2 diabetes. These lifestyle factors included diet, body weight, physical activity, smoking, and alcohol consumption.

The researchers found that people with the healthiest lifestyle factors were about 80 percent less likely to develop diabetes, compared to those with the unhealthiest lifestyle factors. They also found that a person's risk of diabetes went down for every lifestyle factor that they brought to healthy levels.

According to Dr. Reis, making changes to these lifestyle factors can have a huge impact on a person's risk for diabetes. However, he adds, even little changes can make a difference.

Dr. Reis also notes that these findings are important because it is often easier for patients to make one lifestyle change at a time. This study shows that patients can make these changes one at a time, and progressively reduce their risk of diabetes.

For their study, Dr. Reis and his fellow researchers surveyed over 200,000 men and women between the ages of 50 and 71. None of the participants had evidence of heart disease, cancer, or diabetes. At the beginning of the study, the researchers surveyed the participants and recorded their demographic information and lifestyle factors. One decade later, they surveyed the participants again to see who had been diagnosed with diabetes. Of the 100,000 men, ten percent were diagnosed with diabetes. Nearly the same amount of women were diagnosed with diabetes.

All of the study's results are published in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

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Review Date: 
September 6, 2011
Last Updated:
September 7, 2011