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  • Posted July 9, 2024

When Diet, Exercise Delay Diabetes Diagnosis, Long-term Health Improves

Prediabetes can be successfully fought through diet and exercise, a new study shows.

People with prediabetes can reduce their long-term risk of death and illness if they use diet and exercise to delay the onset of diabetes for just four years, according to findings published July 9 in the journal PLOS Medicine.

Prediabetes -- also known as impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) -- involves blood sugar levels that are higher than normal, but haven’t reached the levels associated with full-blown diabetes.

“This study suggests that a longer duration of non-diabetes status in those with IGT has beneficial health outcomes" and reduces premature death, concluded the research team led by Dr. Guangwei Li of the China-Japan Friendship Hospital in Da Qing City, China.

For the study, researchers tracked the health of 540 people with prediabetes who participated in an earlier six-year clinical trial.

In the trial, prediabetic people were assigned to one of four groups – one that followed a healthy diet; one that got more exercise; one that both ate well and exercised; and a control group.

After more than 30 years of follow-up, researchers found that people who didn’t lapse into diabetes for at least four years after their diagnosis with prediabetes had a significantly lower risk of dying or experiencing a heart health event like a heart attack or stroke.

That protective effect was not found in people who became full-fledged diabetic within less than four years, researchers said.

The results suggest that the longer a prediabetic person delays the onset of diabetes, the better their long-term health will be, researchers concluded.

“The implementation of effective interventions targeting those with IGT should be considered as part of preventative management for diabetes and diabetes related vascular complications,” the team wrote.

More information

The National Institutes of Health have more about prediabetes.

SOURCE: PLOS, news release, July 9, 2024

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