In a new study from Northwestern University, researchers found that reducing the prevalence of obesity may prevent up to half of new Type 2 diabetes cases in the United States.
Type 2 diabetes is the most common form of diabetes, affecting more than 31 million Americans, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The risk factors for Type 2 diabetes include being overweight or having obesity; being over the age of 45; having an immediate family member diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes; being physically active less than 3 times per week; or a history of gestational diabetes (diabetes during pregnancy).
The number of deaths due to Type 2 diabetes in people younger than 65 is increasing along with serious complications of the condition, including amputations and hospitalizations.
In addition, Type 2 diabetes impacts heart disease and stroke risk: adults with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have a heart attack or stroke than people without diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or delayed with healthy lifestyle changes, such as losing weight, eating healthy food and being physically active.
According to the National Diabetes Prevention Program, behavior changes have been shown to help people with prediabetes lose 5% – 7% of their body weight and reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% (71% for people older than age 60).
In the study, the team examined the prevalence and excess risk of Type 2 diabetes associated with obesity.
Researchers used information from the Multi-Ethnic Study of Atherosclerosis (MESA) and focused on people age 45 to 79-years old.
They found the overall prevalence of obesity increased from 34% to 41% and was consistently higher among adults with Type 2 diabetes.
People with obesity were nearly three times as likely to develop Type 2 diabetes compared to those without obesity (20% vs. 7.3%, respectively).
Obesity was linked to the development of Type 2 diabetes in 30 – 53% of cases.
The finding highlights the meaningful impact that reducing obesity could have on Type 2 diabetes prevention in the United States.
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The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association. One author of the study is Natalie A. Cameron, M.D.
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