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Losing a few kilograms in weight can almost halve the risk of diabetes, Eastern research study finds

Losing a few kilograms in weight can almost halve the risk of diabetes, Eastern research study finds

Helping people with prediabetes to make small changes to their lifestyle, diet and physical activity can almost halve the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, according to the results of the Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study (NDPS) - the largest diabetes prevention research study in the world in the last 30 years.

The findings of the NIHR-funded NDPS clinical trial, which ran over eight years and involved more than 1,000 people with prediabetes at high risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, have just been published in the international journal JAMA Internal Medicine.

The study found that support to make small, achievable lifestyle changes reduced the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes from 87%, to 47%, for participants 18 years and over, categorised as having prediabetes. The research trial tested a simple intervention which helped people make small achievable lifestyle changes, leading to a modest weight loss of two to three kilograms, and increases in physical activity.

Importantly, these changes were sustained for at least two years and the weight lost was not put back on. These findings are important as they show that a “real-world” lifestyle programme really can make a difference in helping people reduce their risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Approximately eight million people have prediabetes in the UK and 4.5 million have Type 2 diabetes. The NDPS, funded by £2.5m from the NIHR, was led by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospital (NNUH) and University of East Anglia (UEA), together with colleagues from East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust, and the Universities of Birmingham and Exeter.

Professor Mike Sampson, NDPS Chief Investigator and Consultant in Diabetes at NNUH, said: “We are delighted with the results of this trial as, until now, no one was very sure if a real-world lifestyle programme prevented Type 2 diabetes in the prediabetes population we studied, as there have been no clinical trials that had shown this. We have now shown a significant effect in Type 2 diabetes prevention, and we can be very optimistic that even a modest weight loss, and an increase in physical activity, in real-world programmes like this have a big effect on the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.”

Professor Jeremy Turner, CRN Eastern Clinical Director and NDPS co-Investigator, said: “These results are incredibly timely, given the well-documented evidence that COVID-19 can have a greater impact on people with underlying health conditions, including Type 2 diabetes. By showing that people with prediabetes can avoid developing Type 2 diabetes by achieving realistic goals, this could not only help 8 million people in this country, but also many others the world over. Thank you to all the participants who have helped us achieve this breakthrough.”

The JAMA Internal Medicine report can be found here

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