Get some exercise. Eat healthy.
Those are the best ways to prevent new cases of diabetes in people with risk factors for the disease, according to a new paper from a government task force.
The group, formed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, “provides evidence-based recommendations on preventive services, programs, and policies for community populations,” according to its website.
Spreading a Common Sense Message
The guidelines are based on a review of 53 studies regarding 66 diet and physical activity programs, which included counseling and support, aimed at people with an increased risk for type 2 diabetes.
The researchers found these types of programs were effective at preventing new cases of diabetes.
While the recommendations sound like common sense, it’s a message that’s not permeating society the way researchers say it should be.
Earlier this month, major medical organizations called for an “all hands on deck” approach — from doctors to employers — to urge healthier lifestyles to combat noncommunicable diseases (NCDs).
NCDs are responsible for 63 percent of deaths worldwide each year, costing $6.3 trillion a year. Besides targeting poor diet, a lack of exercise, and obesity the experts warn of the global effects of cigarette smoking, high blood pressure, high blood sugar levels, high cholesterol levels, and poor diet.
According to estimates from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), 29 million people in the U.S., or 9 percent of all Americans, have diabetes. About 27 percent of those are undiagnosed.
A Cost-Effective Measure
Being overweight as well as having a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle are three choices that can increase a person’s risk of developing a disease such as diabetes, heart disease, and some types of cancer.
Besides being effective, diet and exercise programs are also cost effective, an important aspect because poverty and poor health go hand-in-hand.
One study found that counties in the United States that have 35 percent or more of their residents at the poverty level have rates of obesity 145 percent higher than wealthy counties.
The task force suggests that interventions include trained professionals who work directly with at-risk people in either a community or clinical setting for a minimum of three months.
Other recommendations include a combination of counseling, coaching, or extended support, and educational sessions about diet and physical activity.
The panel says the research supports the use of high intensity programs because they
produce greater weight loss and a reduction in new cases of diabetes.
Whatever Gets You Moving
In spreading a similar message, the American Diabetes Association says exercise, “includes anything that gets you moving, such as walking, dancing, or working in the yard.”
Experts recommend at least 30 minutes of exercise that increases your heart rate every day.
Besides preventing new cases, proper diet and exercise is especially important for the 21 million Americans diagnosed with diabetes.
Exercise not only reduces weight but also burns off excess blood sugar and increases the body’s sensitivity to insulin.
The diet experts recommend to reduce health risks focuses on whole grains, lean meats, lots of vegetables, and low amounts of fats and sugars.
Sugars in the diet should come from natural sources, such as fruit, with a limited amount coming from refined sugars and processed foods.