Eating green, leafy vegetables may be a good first step toward lowering your type 2 diabetes risks, but more aggressive lifestyle changes -- modifying your dietary and exercise habits over the long haul -- could be even better for your health, according to a new study, especially if you're fighting the battle of the bulge.
Researchers compared the health of 5,145 overweight or obese patients (median age 58) split nearly evenly into two groups over a four-year period. A diabetes support (control) group was assigned to attend sessions focused on diet, social support and physical activity while the rest participated in a lifestyle intervention program, a one-two regimen of exercise and diet modification designed to yield a 7 percent weight loss during the first year, then maintain it for the remainder of the study.
You probably won't be surprised to learn that patients in the active group lost nearly seven times the amount of weight (6.2 percent) compared to those in the control group (0.9 percent), and enjoyed more improvements in blood pressure, high-density lipoprotein (good cholesterol) and hemoglobin A1c (blood glucose) levels and fitness. All of those improvements held up at the end of the four-year study period too, although the disparity in health numbers was widest initially.
Conversely, patients in the control group achieved higher drops in low-density lipoprotein (bad cholesterol), thanks to a greater reliance on a statin drug, reminiscent of a controversial opinion by some medical experts that suggests even healthy folks should consider taking one.
Despite all the good news about lifestyle changes/interventions, scientists weren't willing to project how far either intervention will go toward slowing down or stopping cardiovascular disease altogether. If you could avoid type 2 diabetes or taking a statin drug merely by making better lifestyle decisions, why wouldn't you?
Archives of Internal Medicine, Vol. 170, No. 17, p. 1566-1575, September 27, 2010
LiveScience September 27, 2010
EurekAlert September 27, 2010