Preventing type 2 diabetes by losing weight is effective in both men and women, but men may have to eat fewer calories and exercise more to see the same improvements in their blood sugar, say researchers from the University of Colorado.
In this new report, published in the July 2008 issue of Diabetes Care, more than 1,100 men and women at risk for type 2 diabetes followed either an intensive program of diet and exercise, or standard care. Men and women were defined to be risk for developing diabetes because they had an elevated waist circumference and impaired fasting glucose (a fasting blood sugar reading higher than normal, but not quite high enough to be diagnosed as type 2 diabetes).
The intensive lifestyle program was designed to help the participants lose 7 percent of their body weight by reducing caloric intake, mainly by cutting the amount of fat in the diet. Participants also exercised at least 2.5 hours each week.
After one year of following the lifestyle program, 47 percent of men successfully lost 7 percent of their body weight and 37 percent of women in the same program attained the same weight loss goal.
Both men and women lost weight and lowered their risk of diabetes but despite losing more weight than women, men did not achieve a greater risk reduction than women. Men and women saw similar improvements in their levels of blood fats (triglycerides) and blood sugar (glucose) as a result of losing a modest amount of weight.
Researchers believe the similar level in diabetes risk reduction may be due to the fact that men often start out having more risk factors for diabetes than women. Risk factors include excess body fat (especially in the abdominal area), impaired fasting glucose, and a sedentary lifestyle.
Reducing the amount of fat, particularly saturated (animal) and trans fats, is an effective way to lose weight and thereby reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes. Reducing saturated and trans fats also helps lower elevated LDL blood cholesterol.
For personalized nutrition strategies and a meal plan to help you lose weight , lower blood sugar and prevent diabetes, learn how you can work one-on-one with Leslie Beck, RD.
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