Cambridge scientists study shows exercise helps reduce risk of diabetes

by Sarita Sheth on August 1, 2012

Physical activity linked to lower risk of type 2 diabetes regardless of BMI

Lower levels of physical activity raises the risk of diabetes in both men and women regardless of the amount of body fat that they have, according to scientists.

Many studies have shown that exercise keeps weight down and suggest that higher levels of physical activity may lower the risk of diabetes regardless of whether they are obese or not.

But few of them have looked at large groups of people and they have also looked at men only of women only.

Now a group of scientists at the University of Cambridge have looked at the relationship between body fat and exercise in men and women of varying weights and how this affects the risk of diabetes.

According to Ulf Ekelund and his colleagues physical activity was linked to a lower risk of type 2 diabetes for people across all categories of body mass index, or BMI, a measure of body fat using height and weight.

They divided people into four groups based on how much they exercised: inactive, moderately inactive, moderately active, and active. They were also split into three weight groups: normal weight with a BMI of less than 25, overweight with a BMI of 25 to 30, and obese with a BMI of 30 or more.

The team found that in men a one category improvement in physical activity was associated with a 13% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes and in women a one category difference was associated with a 7% reduced risk.

Lower levels of physical activity raised the risk of diabetes in both men and women, regardless of their amount of abdominal fat.

However, the increased risk linked to low levels of physical activity was lower in abdominally obese women than in women with less abdominal fat.

According to the team these results suggest that the amount people exercise may predict the development of type 2 diabetes. Those who exercise more have the ability to significantly reduce their risk of type 2 diabetes, no matter how skinny or obese they are.

According to the authors, promoting physical activity could help prevent type 2 diabetes.

Their research looked at 12,403 cases of type 2 diabetes and was funded by the European Union and the Medical Research Council in the UK, and published in the research journal Diabetologia.

The opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect the views of the Community and should not be interpreted as medical advice. Please see your doctor before making any changes to your diabetes management plan.

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