diabetes lifestyle

Lifestyle changes can have a great impact on type 2 diabetes.

One of the most important ways to manage diabetes, or to minimize the risk of developing diabetes, is to have good lifestyle habits. Fortunately for individuals who have already developed diabetes, research has shown that lifestyle changes can help manage the condition. In the famous Diabetes Prevention Program Study, individuals at risk for diabetes who engaged in regular exercise and adhered to a low fat and high fiber diet were 34% less likely to develop type 2 diabetes whereas patients taking an anti-diabetic medication lowered their risk by 18%.

Many studies have proved that obesity and fat distribution, excessive caloric intake, sedentary lifestyle behaviors, smoking, and high alcohol intake has driven the global diabetes epidemic. The globalization of diabetes is a major concern at present; as of 2010, approximately 285 million people were affected, 90% of which were type 2 diagnoses. These numbers are expected to double by the year 2030. To curb the increasing prevalence of diabetes it is important to educate the targeted population about the risk factors which lead to the disease.

Large scale epidemiological studies and clinical trials have shown that type 2 diabetes is preventable with simple remedies such as diet and lifestyle modification. The adoption of a healthy diet and changes to the lifestyle through individual behavioral changes can make a dramatic change. Being overweight (BMI ≥ 25 kg/m²) or obese affects the majority of adults in most developed and rapidly developing nations. People with greater truncal obesity (a waist circumference of more than 40 inches for men and over 35 inches for women) are at greater risk for type 2 diabetes. Overweight or obese individuals are also more prone to insulin resistance. Overall, excessive energy intake and reduced energy output leads to increased obesity and insulin resistance.

Sedentary behaviors increase the risk of diabetes. Among sedentary behaviors (watching TV and sitting long hours at work), prolonged TV watching was associated with the highest risk. It is associated with reduced energy waste and increased consumption of unhealthy food (fast food and snacks) and beverages.

Over the past decade, the rapid industrialization of developing nations and a positive trend toward using mechanical systems has displaced physical activity. This is mainly due to decreases in physical activity at the work place as a result of urbanization. Also, increased use of automobiles instead of public transportation is associated with reduced physical activity as well.

Apart from the above mentioned risk factors, people have to consider smoking cessation and reducing alcohol consumption in lifestyle changes, although they are also considered independent risk factors. Smoking has established the risk of central obesity and beta-cell dysfunction which is responsible for the production of insulin in the pancreas.

As a solution to these key issues, a healthy diet and a physically active lifestyle can prevent the population at risk from type 2 diabetes.

Image courtesy of Apolonia /