Study: Exercise, Diet Reduce Diabetes Risk

ByABC News

Aug. 8, 2001 -- Walking 30 minutes each day and watching your diet might help prevent adult-onset diabetes, a federal study suggests.

The National Institutes of Health study found that lowering one's body weight by 7 percent — an average of 15 pounds — through a low-fat diet and exercising for 150 minutes a week can decrease the risk of developing type II diabetes — also known as adult-onset diabetes — by as much as 58 percent.

"Type II diabetes is not inevitable, and the solution may be as simple as getting up off the couch and walking around the block and eating a healthier diet," said Dr. Christopher Saudek, president of the American Diabetes Association.

The study also showed that use of the blood sugar-lowering drug metformin, sold by Bristol-Myers Squibb under the brand name Glucophage, lowered participants' risk of developing type II diabetes by 31 percent.

Health and Human Services Secretary Tommy Thompson said in light of the findings, members of his department will go on a diet, and he challenged other federal employees to do the same. He added that the federal government will develop a new public health campaign to fight diabetes.

"Today, we have exciting news, exciting proof that when it comes to diabetes, prevention really does work," Thompson said. "Americans weigh more than ever before. And too many people live sedentary lives. Diabetes costs our nation at least $100 billion each and every year."

Weight Is Factor

The clinical study involved 3,234 participants from 27 medical centers across the country.

Type II diabetes accounts for 95 percent of all cases of diabetes and it is estimated that 10 million Americans are at high risk for developing the disease.

Being overweight is a primary risk factor for developing type II diabetes. In fact, eight out of 10 people with type II diabetes are overweight, causing the body to become more resistant to the blood sugar-lowering hormone insulin.

Medication Lowers Risk

The NIH study also indicated using metformin can help prevent the onset of type II diabetes.

Metformin is currently used as a treatment for those already diagnosed with diabetes and works by lowering the amount of sugar released from the liver and lowering the amount of sugar absorbed in the intestine.

Participants in the NIH study received 850 mg of metformin twice a day during the study and showed a 31 percent decrease in their risk for developing type II diabetes.

Based on these results, the FDA may now consider allowing the drug for use in preventing type II diabetes.

ABCNEWS' Andrew Giese and Lauren Rogers contributed to this report.

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