Maintaining stable weight and loss of weight were each strongly associated with a decreased risk for diabetes among middle-aged adults, a new study found.
The researchers predicted that about 20% of new diabetes cases could be prevented if adulthood weight was monitored and by getting people aware of there Body Mass Index values.
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On a population level, about 40% of new cases could be prevented through weight loss
During the primary care visits, if a patient had a BMI of 30 or more, he or she was counseled on lifestyle modification. Similarly, referral to a nurse followed if the patient had impaired glucose intolerance.
During a 10-year follow-up, 1,087 new diabetes cases occurred, accounting for 3.3% of the participants. Also during this period, the study found that a weight gain of more than one BMI point among adults was associated with an increased incident diabetes risk .
Similarly, a gain in relative weight during the follow-up period was also linked to an increased incident diabetes risk
However, the researchers reported that the benefits of weight maintenance and weight loss were not significantly associated with diabetes risk among normal weight individuals. Also, individuals who were age 30 at baseline did not experience the same relationship between incidence risk and BMI change among the BMI categories
Despite the already established link between obesity status and diabetes risk, Feldman and colleagues noted that “the probability that obese adults will attain normal weight is exceedingly low,” arguing for action to take place at a broader, population level, in terms of the prevention of weight gain.
Shifting the focus of the analysis to public health concerns, the researchers stated that there is a dearth of evidence concerning population-based approaches for diabetes prevention. Through the current study, they said, they hoped “to investigate the public health potential of a whole population strategy for diabetes prevention by quantifying the impact on risk and population burden of diabetes of shifting the population distribution of body weight.
“While a population-based approach for weight maintenance or moderate weight loss has considerable potential for reducing diabetes burden, single interventions are unlikely to achieve the necessary impact on weight.”
The researchers said they instead propose that particular focus be paid to achievable, community-based weight loss programs, such as commercial weight loss programs.
Past research has shown the weight benefits that commercial weight loss programs can provide, particularly for high-risk populations, the team said. For example, a recent analysis reported significant improvement in metabolic syndrome among overweight and obese women enrolled in 12-week commercial weight loss programs. However, Feldman et al cautioned that maintaining weight loss following the conclusion of these programs can be difficult.
The authors also pointed to the potential for new policy, such as the uptake in sugar-sweetened beverage taxes, which have been recently implemented in several places across the world, such as Berkeley, Calif., Philadelphia, and Mexico. Although these population-based prevention methods have the potential to reduce diabetes risk, the extent of the benefits remains largely unknown.
Overall, the team highlighted the importance of promoting weight maintenance at a population level through lifestyle modification, in order to curb the rising rates of type 2 diabetes.
“Thus, when it comes to body weight and diabetes, from a public health perspective it would be advisable to consider both high-risk and population-based strategies for diabetes prevention,” Feldman said in a press statement.