Scientists find a lifesaving strategy for people with prediabetes

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People diagnosed with prediabetes can significantly lower their long-term risk of death and health complications related to diabetes by delaying the onset of diabetes by just four years through diet and exercise.

This finding comes from a study by Guangwei Li and colleagues from the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, published on July 9 in PLOS Medicine.

Type 2 diabetes is linked to a higher risk of death and disability and creates a significant economic burden globally.

Lifestyle changes, such as eating a healthy diet and increasing physical activity, can delay or reduce the risk of developing diabetes in those with impaired glucose tolerance (IGT), often called prediabetes.

However, the optimal duration for delaying diabetes to achieve long-term health benefits was previously unclear.

The new study analyzed health outcomes of 540 prediabetic individuals who participated in the original Da Qing Diabetes Prevention Study.

This six-year trial, which began in 1986 in Da Qing City, China, involved participants from either a control group or one of three lifestyle intervention groups that followed a healthy diet, increased physical activity, or both. Researchers followed the participants for over 30 years to assess the long-term effects.

Li’s team looked at the long-term risk of death, cardiovascular events (such as heart attacks, strokes, or heart failure), and other diabetes-related complications.

They discovered that individuals who stayed non-diabetic for at least four years after their initial diagnosis had a significantly lower risk of death and cardiovascular events compared to those who developed diabetes sooner.

This protective effect was not seen in individuals who remained non-diabetic for less than four years.

The study indicates that the longer a prediabetic person can delay the onset of diabetes, the better their long-term health outcomes will be. Even a few years of maintaining prediabetic status can provide benefits for years to come.

The researchers concluded that effective interventions targeting those with IGT should be part of preventative management for diabetes and related vascular complications, emphasizing that a longer duration of non-diabetic status leads to better health outcomes and reduces mortality.

If you care about diabetes, please read studies that flaxseed oil is more beneficial than fish oil to people with diabetes, and green tea could help reduce death risk in diabetes.

For more information about nutrition, please see recent studies that blueberries strongly benefit people with metabolic syndrome, and results showing vitamin D could improve blood pressure in people with diabetes.

The research findings can be found in PLoS Medicine.

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