The majority of type 2 diabetes could be prevented by the adoption of a healthier lifestyle, American scientists revealed recently.
In a 16 year study researchers from the Department of Nutrition at the Harvard School of Public Health followed 84,941 female nurses, all free of diagnosed cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and cancer, in order to examine the effect of dietary and lifestyle factors on type 2 diabetes.
Information about their diet and lifestyle was updated periodically. A low-risk group was defined according to a combination of five variables: a body-mass index (the weight in kilograms divided by the square of the height in meters) of less than 25; a diet high in cereal fibre and polyunsaturated fat and low in trans fat and glycemic load (which reflects the effect of diet on the blood glucose level); engagement in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity for at least half an hour per day; no current smoking; and the consumption of an average of at least half a drink of an alcoholic beverage per day.
Results showed that overweight or obesity was the single most important predictor of diabetes. After this, a lack of exercise, a poor diet, current smoking, and abstinence from alcohol use were all associated with a significantly increased risk of diabetes, even after adjustment for the body-mass index, the scientists claimed.
Full findings are published in the Volume 345:790-79 September 13, 2001 Number 11 issue of The New England Journal of Medicine.