Preventing diabetes? According to new U.S. research, diet and sport would be the perfect and essential combination to delay the onset of this disease that now affects about 5 million people in Italy. Confirming what doctors have been trying for some time to communicate to their patients, namely that physical activity and nutrition are not an option, but a key element in prevention, is a study that has examined as many as 17 thousand people. We talk about the results published in Diabetes Care with Dr. Cesare Berra, diabetologist at Humanitas.
Weight loss and diabetes risk, what is the link?
Researchers at Emory University in the United States examined data from 17,272 participants from 63 previous studies published between 1990 and 2015. This allowed them to verify that those who had performed a lifestyle modification intervention, in particular from the point of view of diet and physical activity, had a risk of developing diabetes less than 29% compared to those who had not done so.
The subjects also lost weight, slimming by an average of 1.5 kilos. The meta-analysis made by the researchers then examined the role played by weight loss in reducing the risk of diabetes, discovering that every kilo lost was associated with 43% less chance of developing the disease. This suggests that even a small weight loss of 1% of initial weight can have a considerable impact on risk reduction.
Experts also found that studies such as the one carried out by Emory University can be reliable for the wide range of cases examined and indicate that doctors should be more committed to promoting physical activity as a tool for the prevention and treatment of diabetes.
Could exercise become prescriptive?
Today, a general practitioner or specialist can prescribe specific drugs and diets, and in all likelihood, expect the patient to follow the new diet and take the drugs. Conversely, physical activity can only be recommended because to date there are no facilities that offer it in convention.
What are other possible risk factors for diabetes?
The consequence, as you can see every day in clinical practice, is that physical activity is practiced only by those who can afford it both economically and in terms of free time. Often, however, it is precisely those who cannot afford it who need it most, because it also presents other risk factors related to diabetes, such as a low level of education and propensity to consume foods that are very caloric and inexpensive. Hence the appeal of the Italian scientific society to the Ministry of Health to make a combined effort to find a way to deal with this problem.
The opinion of Humanitas
This is an excellent study published in the magazine, perhaps more important than our specific field. Well conducted and with an important number of subjects, it brings further confirmation of what we already knew and how much we already emphasize at each of our meetings, both among colleagues and during visits with patients. Physical activity acts at all levels, in the healthy subject to maintain the state of well-being, in pre-diabetes or metabolic syndrome or hepatosteatosis (NAFLD or NASH) reducing the risk of further worsening of metabolic disease and reducing the cardiovascular risk in diabetes. When it comes to diabetes, physical activity remains the cornerstone and the first step of the therapy to which to associate drugs in all guidelines.
Italian data and research on the subject
“The Italian Society of Diabetology (SID) has in its organization chart a special study group on the subject and numerous studies have been conducted and all lead in the same direction: aerobic physical activity is good – said the doctor. The idea of prescribing physical activity in convention? – Excellent. However, it is necessary to start in schools (much more than what is practiced now) and offer the possibility of being active in the workplace. The real revolution would be to make it as compulsory as a seat belt when driving… at least twenty minutes a day”.