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New Type 2 diabetes study says a few kilos weight loss nearly halves risk in prediabetics

New Type 2 diabetes study says a few kilos weight loss nearly halves risk in prediabetics
(Image credit: Getty)

Prediabetes is a serious health condition that puts you at increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, heart disease and stroke, and currently affects around 88 million Americans - one in three of us - warns the CDC (opens in new tab). But there is a way to reduce your risk if you’re prediabetic: according to new Type 2 diabetes research (opens in new tab), losing just a few kilograms of body weight can reduce your risk of developing diabetes by 40-47%.

The large scale health study, conducted by the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals in conjunction with the University of East Anglia, has shown that making small lifestyle changes in the prediabetic phase can stop you from developing Type 2 diabetes. The Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study (NDPS) is the world’s largest diabetes prevention research study in the past 30 years, so this new diabetes research is significant.

For many people who already have diabetes, learning to live with such a serious health condition is tough, and includes having to make careful choices about diet and exercise, among other things. Diabetics need to take daily blood sugar readings too, though this has been made easier due to innovations with the best glucose meters (opens in new tab) over the years. While these aren’t covered by the best Medicare Part D plans (opens in new tab), you can find coverage for them with Medicare Part B.

Researchers from the Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study found that:

  • The loss of just two to three kilograms of body weight, which were not put back on, reduced the participant’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 40-47%. 

According to Colin Greaves (opens in new tab), Professor of Psychology Applied to Health at University of Birmingham, who jointly led the development of the NDPS study, small tweaks to a prediabetic individuals diet and activity levels can offer them a chance to “get off the path to Type 2 diabetes and onto the road to a healthier future.” 

New Type 2 diabetes study says a few kilos weight loss nearly halves risk in prediabetics

(Image credit: Getty)

New Type 2 diabetes research: The Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study

The Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study was a clinical trial run over eight years between 2011 and 2018, and involved more than 1,000 prediabetics. Researchers were interested in finding out if people with prediabetes, the phase before Type 2 diabetes where blood glucose levels are raised, could be prevented from going on to develop Type 2 diabetes by making small changes to their diet and lifestyle.

Throughout the NDPS study, participants were encouraged to make small lifestyle adjustments that led to modest weight loss, and to pair those with an increase in physical activity. The loss of just two to three kilograms, which were not put back on, reduced the participant’s risk of developing Type 2 diabetes by 40-47%. 

Professor Mike Sampson, NDPS Chief Investigator and Consultant in Diabetes at NNUH, states: “We have now shown a significant effect in Type 2 diabetes prevention, and we can be very optimistic that even a modest weight loss, and an increase in physical activity, in real world programmes like this have a big effect on the risk of getting Type 2 diabetes.”

How to reduce your risk of Type 2 diabetes

If you're worried about prediabetes or Type 2 diabetes, here are a few takeaways from The Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study that you could consider trying:

  • Speak to your doctor about what an ideal body weight is for you
  • Aim for 30 minutes of aerobic activity, five days a week
  • Focus on increasing your activity levels where possible. For example, take the stairs instead of the elevator, walk short distances instead of driving
  • Reduce the amount of bad fats in your diet and the overall number of calories
  • Increase your amount of vitamin C rich foods

Wherever possible, make your diet and lifestyle changes fun - if you enjoy doing something, you’re far more likely to keep doing it. Consider investing in one of the best fitness trackers (opens in new tab) to keep you on track with your health goals. 

Even getting outside for a brisk walk each morning could make a difference, or you could exercise at home with the best treadmills (opens in new tab) for walking and running, or even an elliptical machine (opens in new tab) for a full-body workout. No room for equipment? Try one of the best online fitness programs (opens in new tab) instead.

While stress alone doesn’t cause diabetes, there is evidence (opens in new tab) of a potential link between high stress levels and developing the disease. The best meditation apps (opens in new tab) can be a great addition to a new health regime, ensuring your mental health is taken care of, while sleeping on the best mattress (opens in new tab) and pillows (opens in new tab) for your sleep style can help both. That’s important because research (opens in new tab) suggests a strong link between good sleep and a healthy BMI.

Looking for more health and wellness content? Then take a look at our guide to the best health insurance companies (opens in new tab), especially if you need coverage for an ongoing health condition. You may also be interested in the best vision insurance (opens in new tab), as well as our guide to the best dental insurance (opens in new tab) for individuals and families.

Kathryn is a freelance health and wellness writer who is passionate about the mind-body connection, the role of food as medicine, and exploring how we can live in more sustainable and humane ways. A lover of the natural world, she’s at her happiest when walking the beach, staring out at the ocean, or when sat amongst lakes and mountains. For Top Ten Reviews, Kathryn covers more of our in-depth health content, ranging from diabetes news to vision care. And it isn’t just human wellness Kathryn is interested in - she also writes about the health of our furry friends over at our sister site PetsRadar.