Regular exercise and a healthy diet have been proven to be effective in reducing the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Diabetes Prevention Program, a study of people at high risk for diabetes, showed that “lifestyle intervention to lose weight and increase physical activity reduced the development of type 2 diabetes by 58% during a three-year period.”
Obesity is one cause of type 2 diabetes. Donna Webb, dietician with the CoxHealth Diabetes Center, says anyone with a body mass index greater than 25 is at higher risk of developing the disease. And, she says, the more overweight a person is, the greater their risk. She explains why…
"One of the things we've found is there's an insulin insensitivity, so their bodies become less sensitive to insulin, so they're still producing insulin, but the insulin doesn't exactly attach to the receptor as well on the cells, so in that case the cells don't open up so that sugar can get into the cells to be used for energy."
Other risk factors for diabetes include family history, history of gestational diabetes, race/ethnicity and older age. And those with pre-diabetes are at risk. People with pre-diabetes have blood glucose levels higher than normal but not high enough to be classified as diabetes.
According to the CDC, studies have shown that those with pre-diabetes who lose weight and increase their physical activity can prevent or delay type 2 diabetes and, in some cases, return their blood glucose levels to normal.
Webb says increased exercise and a modified diet are important changes to make…
"It can be cure or the answer to their diabetes. The most important thing is to control blood sugar. You know, even if you have diabetes you still can control your blood sugar, and the best way to do that is through diet and exercise."
She says some people are able to reduce or eliminate their type 2 diabetes medications if they exercise regularly and eat right.
According to Webb, diabetes self-management has been shown to be one of the most effective methods of controlling the disease. That’s why local hospitals, including Cox, offer classes in managing diabetes. One is a 12-week course called “Leaner Life,” offered a few times each year. The number to call to get on the waiting list for the next one is 269-3900. Classes are offered for pre-diabetics once a month.
Webb says preventing or managing diabetes is important because the disease can lead to many kinds of complications including kidney failure, cardiovascular disease, neuropathy and even death.
For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.