Preventing weight gain can cut risk of type 2 diabetes in half

By Amy Wallace   |   Feb. 6, 2017 at 9:40 AM

Feb. 6 (UPI) -- Researchers at the University of Cambridge in England have found that public health programs to reduce obesity can significantly lower the risk of type 2 diabetes.

The study aimed to determine the impact of public health programs on reducing the risk of type 2 diabetes in the general population, those not at high risk of developing the disease. Previous studies targeted weight loss and its impact on obese people at high risk of type 2 diabetes with high glucose levels.

Researchers analyzed data from 33,184 people aged 30 to 60 who were examined twice in 10 years between 1990 and 2013 as part of the Vasterbotten Intervention Program, or VIP. The study was a collaboration of VIP and the MRC Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge.

The goal of the study was to determine the link between change in body weight between baseline and the 10-year follow-up and the incidence of newly diagnosed type 2 diabetes at the 10-year mark. Researchers found that public health initiatives can benefit not only those at high risk for diabetes but also those not in the high risk category.

Results showed that after 10 years, 3.3 percent of participants developed diabetes, 53.9 percent gained more than 2 pounds over their starting weight and 36.2 percent maintained their weight. People who gained more than 2 pounds had a 52 percent higher risk of diabetes than those who maintained their weight.

"We have shown that a population-based strategy that promotes prevention of weight gain in adulthood has the potential to prevent more than twice as many diabetes cases as a strategy that only promotes weight loss in obese individuals at high risk of diabetes," Dr. Alina Feldman, of the MRC at the University of Cambridge and author of the study, said in a press release. "Thus, when it comes to body weight and diabetes, from a public health perspective it would be advisable to consider both high-risk and population-based strategies for diabetes prevention."

The study was published in BMC Public Health.

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