Chinese study confirms lifestyle changes help reduce risk of type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on April 30, 2014

A new study confirms that people at a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes reduce their chances of developing the condition if they change their lifestyle.

The lifestyle changes, which included diet modifications and exercise, also helped lower death rates, especially among women, according to the research carried out in China, which is facing an explosion in the number of cases being diagnosed.

The research, based on the six-year Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study, found that participants began the study with higher than normal blood sugar levels, but not high enough to be diagnosed with diabetes.


Making lifestyle changes can reduce the chance of developing type 2 diabetes in high-risk groups

They then wanted to find out if lifestyle changes could help prevent or delay a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes. Those taking part were put into one of three test groups: diet alone, exercise alone and diet and exercise.

The diet group was aimed at helping overweight people lose weight and normal weight people reduce the amount of simple carbohydrates and alcohol they ingested. The goal of the exercise programme was to increase the amount of leisure time participants spent being active.

The original study indicated that all three intervention groups had a reduced risk of developing type 2 diabetes when the study ended in 1992. The current researchers wanted to see if the lifestyle changes made in the original study still had an impact on the development of diabetes and death rates many years later.

Dr. Guangwei Li of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Beijing said that they compared medical records and death certificates of 430 participants in the intervention groups and 138 members of the comparison group, who did not make any lifestyle changes.

By the end of 2009, 28% of participants in the intervention groups had died, compared to 38% of the controls. When they looked specifically at heart disease, the researchers found that 12% of the intervention group participants had died of heart related conditions, compared to 20% of the controls.

Almost all of the benefit was found in women. There was very little difference in death rates among men based on whether they went through one of the lifestyle programmes.

The researchers also compared diabetes diagnoses and found that 73% of the intervention group had developed diabetes by the end of 2009, compared to 90% of the control group.

‘The group-based lifestyle interventions over a six year period had long term effects on prevention of diabetes beyond the period of active intervention. It is worth taking active action to prevent diabetes to reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease and mortality,’ said Dr. Li.


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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