Scientists aim to find out if exercise or diet has more impact on type 2 diabetes

by Barbara Hewitt on April 8, 2016

The age old debate of whether a low calorie diet or an improved exercise regime is better for controlling type 2 diabetes is to be investigated by scientists in the UK.

Exercise is being pitted against diet in a straight contest to find out which results in better diabetes control and the effect on heart function as part of new research in Leicester.

They will be examining the impact of a low calorie diet compared to a fitness regime in an attempt to find out which is better for the heart in people with type 2 diabetes.


Type 2 diabetes is known to have subtle effects on the pumping function of the heart, even at young ages but the reasons for this are currently unclear.

The study is a collaboration between two research teams, the NIHR Cardiovascular Biomedical Research Unit (BRU), based at Leicester Glenfield Hospital and the NIHR Leicester-Loughborough Diet, Lifestyle and Physical Activity BRU, which is located at the Leicester Diabetes Centre at Leicester General Hospital.

“Many of the effects of type 2 diabetes have been shown to be reversible, for instance following weight loss or after bariatric surgery. At present, however, we do not know if the same applies to the changes seen in the heart,” said Melanie Davies, Professor of Diabetes Medicine at the University of Leicester.

“This study is aiming to discover exactly how type 2 diabetes causes changes in the heart’s structure and function using MRI scans. We will be looking to improve the heart’s pumping function by using either a weight loss programme with a special low calorie diet, or with a structured programme of exercise,” she explained.

Professor Gerry McCann, consultant cardiologist at Glenfield Hospital, explained why the study was so important. ëHeart disease is the commonest cause of death in patients with diabetes and they are at least four times more likely to develop heart failure,í he said.

“We need to find treatments that can effectively reverse heart damage in patients with diabetes to reduce their risk of complications and death,” he added.

Study participants will either be eating a structured diet consisting of 810 calories a day and not being physically active or taking part in a 12 week exercise programme without dietary restrictions.

People taking part in the study are between the ages of 18 and 60 and have type 2 diabetes and are overweight.

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.

{ 0 comments… add one now }

Leave a Comment

Previous post:

Next post: