In a 10-year study, intensive lifestyle changes aimed at modest weight loss reduced the rate of developing type 2 diabetes mellitus [T2DM] by 34% compared with a placebo in people at high risk for the disease, according researchers at the National Institutes of Health’s (NIH) National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases.

Participants randomly assigned to make lifestyle changes also had more favorable cardiovascular risk factors, including lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, despite taking fewer drugs to control their heart disease risk.

Treatment with the oral diabetes drug metformin reduced the rate of developing diabetes by 18% after 10 years compared with a placebo.

Intensive lifestyle changes consisted of lowering fat and calories in the diet and increasing regular physical activity to 150 minutes per week. Participants received training in diet, exercise (most chose walking), and behavior modification skills. In the first year of the study, this group lost 15 lbs on average but regained all but about 5 pounds over 10 years. The metformin group has maintained a loss of about 5 pounds, and the placebo group lost less than 2 pounds over the decade.

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