The threat to people at risk of developing type 2 diabetes can be reduced by a healthy diet and losing weight, according to a report in published online by The Lancet.
It cites research showing that over a 10-year period, lifestyle changes can provide greater benefits than the diabetes-prevention drug metformin.
The conclusion follows the extension a Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) study in 2001 involving 3,200 overweight or obese at-risk adults with elevated blood sugar levels.
The research found that intensive lifestyle changes including reduced calorie and fat intake and frequent exercise cut the chances of developing the disease by 58%.
But patients given two doses of metformin a day, but who undertook no lifestyle changes, had only a 31% reduced risk over the same period.
The study found that over 10 years, lifestyle changes reduced overall diabetes rates by 34%, while for metformin the risk was lowered by only 18%.
Said researcher Dr William Knowler, at the US National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases: “Sustaining even modest weight loss produced major long-term health rewards by lowering the risk of type 2 diabetes and reducing other cardiovascular risk factors in people at high risk of developing diabetes.”