Proven Beyond Doubt – the #1 Method for Diabetes Prevention
Perhaps your doctor has been encouraging you to shed a few pounds, or modify your diet for health purposes or perhaps the signs of aging are slowly revealing themselves in the form of diseases. It is almost certain that most adults are not ignorant to the benefits of weight loss and a healthy diet. In fact, the increasing number of slimming facilities, diet regimes and health products reflects the public’s awareness of healthy living. The problem no longer lies with patient knowledge but rather the achievement of these recommended goals. The question therein is how do we truly achieve these goals that have proven successful in so many studies.
The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study included 522 middle-aged, overweight subjects with impaired glucose tolerance, randomly assigned into a control group or an intensive lifestyle intervention group. The intervention group showed significantly greater improvement in each intervention goal. After 1 and 3 years, weight reductions were 4.5 and 3.5 kg in the intervention group and 1.0 and 0.9 kg in the control group, respectively. Sugar and cholesterol control improved more in the intervention group.
Let’s take a closer look at the type of guidance the intervention group had during this trial. The participants in this group had face-to-face consultation sessions (from 30 min to 1 h) with a nutritionist seven times during the first year and every 3 months thereafter where they were given individualized advises, according to their current lifestyle and habits. In addition, there were group sessions, expert lectures, low-fat cooking lessons, visits to local supermarkets, and between-visit phone calls and letters. Even spouses were invited to join the sessions, especially if he or she was the one responsible for shopping and cooking in the family. Overall, they did not only had individualized advises on diet modification, their progress was followed up closely and guidance was available. In the aspect of physical activity, these subjects received supervised, progressive, individually tailored circuit-type moderate intensity resistance training sessions free of charge. As a means for improving motivation, an “exercise competition” between participants was organized twice during the study period. Voluntary group walking and hiking were also organized.
The control group however was given general information about lifestyle and diabetes risk individually or sometimes in groups where some printed material was delivered. They were given the message to reduce weight, increase physical activity, and make qualitative changes in diet. However, counseling was not individualized. With the amount of attention given to the intervention group, it doesn’t come as a surprise that the intervention group resulted in an average of weight loss of 3.5 kg at the end of 3 years.
From this we know a support group consisting of professionals and other participants increases the chance of succeeding in achieving lifestyle modification. Advise on diet and exercise should be individualized, exercise groups and support groups organized. However, the reality is that not every patient will be able to afford seeing a nutritionist or hire a trainer. Man power in the health care system is unable to meet the public’s demand for close monitoring and follow-up of most patients. Ideally, every effort should be made by every government to reduce the burden of chronic disease because in the long run it just might be cheaper to hire all those nutritionist and physical trainers than to manage diabetes and it’s complications. As a patient, one should take ownership and responsibility over their health. Take the initiative therefore to get together a group of friends who;d like to achieve similar goals and start a support group in your neighbourhood. More information on dietary modification and physical activity can be found in our article on diabetes prevention.