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Medical experts say lifestyle habits are key to managing type 2 diabetes. Maskot/Getty Images
  • Researchers say a newly approved drug for type 2 diabetes performed well in a new study.
  • They say the medication tirzepatide achieved weight loss and blood sugar control goals more quickly than other treatments.
  • Experts say that in addition to medication, type 2 diabetes can be managed through diet and exercise programs.

The drug tirzepatide (Mounjaro), which was approved by the Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of type 2 diabetes in May 2022, was found to help achieve blood sugar control and weight loss goals faster than other types of diabetes medications in a new study.

Research presented at the European Association for the Study of Diabetes annual meeting in Sweden showed that for adults who took injectable doses of tirzepatide instead of Rybelsus or daily insulin:

  • Blood glucose targets were reached four weeks sooner.
  • Weight loss goals of a 5% reduction in weight were achieved in 12 weeks rather than 24 weeks.
  • Achieving A1c levels of less than 7% took about 8 weeks as compared to 12 weeks.
  • Achieving A1c levels of less than 6.5% took 12 weeks as compared to 16 to 24 weeks.

“Even a small amount of weight loss, 5 to 10 percent, can dramatically improve your blood glucose numbers,” Lauren Sepe, a clinical nutritionist at Kellman Wellness Center in New York, told Healthline.

Mounjaro mimics two natural insulin-releasing and appetite-suppressing hormones in one injection. Because of the effects of the drug on blood-sugar levels and weight loss, adults with type 2 diabetes could also have fewer long-term complications than those not taking it, researchers said.

Reducing sugar and carbohydrate intake is essential, but managing diabetes isn’t as simple as cutting certain items out of your diet.

Lori Chong, a registered dietician at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center, offers the following suggestions for managing weight and blood sugar.

  • Calories matter but so does food quality – ultra-processed foods tend to promote inflammation, alter the gut microbiome, and are low in fiber and micronutrients.
  • A lower carb diet can help manage blood sugar but not so low in carbohydrates that we sacrifice fiber. Fiber is crucial to your overall health.
  • Try to avoid the cycle of weight loss and weight gain. When this happens, blood sugar control and heart health tend to worsen.
  • Exercise is essential but not to burn calories. We need physical activity for blood flow and to maintain or improve muscle mass.

With diabetes, blood sugar isn’t the only concern. It can also impact heart, kidney, eye, and nerve health.

Because it can be hard to make diet changes, Chong suggests working with a registered dietitian for personalized advice.

She said it is essential to make changes that are sustainable over time.

Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes, according to the National Institutes of Health.

It occurs when blood glucose, or blood sugar, is too high. Blood sugar comes from our foods and is our primary energy source.

“For many people with diabetes, their cells do not properly respond to the insulin. Therefore, the pancreas continues to pump more and more insulin out. Yet, the circulating glucose levels remain high in the bloodstream,” explained Sepe.

“Over time, this persistently elevated glucose level can result in diabetes, leading to chronic inflammation, which can put you at risk for other chronic conditions,” she added.

There are certain lifestyle factors and health conditions that can increase the risk of type 2 diabetes:

  • Physical inactivity
  • High blood pressure
  • Family history of diabetes
  • History of gestational diabetes
  • Black, Hispanic/Latinx, Native American, Asian American, and some Pacific Islander ethnicities
  • Being overweight
  • Smoking
  • Polycystic ovary syndrome
  • Depression
  • Being older than 45

Symptoms can develop so gradually that you might not notice them until they get health-related problems such as heart disease.

Symptoms include:

  • increased thirst and urination
  • increased hunger
  • feeling tired
  • blurred vision
  • numbness or tingling in the feet or hands
  • sores that do not heal
  • unexplained weight loss

Some people do not have symptoms, so experts say it is essential to have regular checkups and routine blood tests.