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Clinical Articles, News & Views

Type 2 diabetes “reversible” with lifestyle changes

Early type 2 diabetes can be reversed with lifestyle changes, according to European Society of Cardiology (ESC) spokesperson Professor Eberhard Standl (Munich Diabetes Research Group, Germany) in a recent statement accompanying this year’s World Diabetes Day.

Professor Standl said: “The dramatic increase of type 2 diabetes worldwide has exceeded expectations. Globally there are 400 million people with type 2 diabetes and a similar number with the pre stages of type 2 diabetes. The epidemic seems unstoppable but there is very good and strong evidence that people can stop diabetes with lifestyle changes.”

People who want to reverse early diabetes into a pre-stage of diabetes, or prevent type 2 diabetes from developing, need to lose about 5% of their body weight, Professor Standl said: “To lose weight you have to limit your fat intake, particularly saturated fats, which are found in foods such as butter, sausages, fatty cuts of meat, cakes and cheese…There is no question that people who have had type 2 diabetes for just a short period of time can reverse it with a low calorie diet. This can be effective within 3 to 5 days. Of course the continuing challenge is to maintain the lower body weight.”

Professor Standl also recommended a diabetes risk assessment form, from the Finnish Diabetes Association: “The questionnaire is very easy and people can do it themselves. A score of 12 or higher indicates that you should take some preventive action. Regular physical exercise is the most important thing you can do, followed by eating fibre rich foods, limiting saturated fats and losing weight.”

He continued: “Many people hardly move during their working day and even during leisure time. To reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes, the goal is 30 minutes of decent physical exercise every day. This could be brisk walking, jogging, swimming or cycling and should be combined with muscle training.”

Professor Standl concluded: “Adopting lifestyle changes that prevent or reverse type 2 diabetes in the short term can also prevent death from cardiovascular disease over the long term. If you take the questionnaire and find out you’re at risk of diabetes, it’s not too late. Making positive changes by being more active, eating a healthy diet and losing weight can reverse diabetes and are also good for your heart.”

The FINDRISC questionnaire for estimating risk of diabetes and measuring BMI is available here: http://www.escardio.org/about/press/Documents/diabetes-risk-chart-2014.pdf

Published on: December 19, 2014

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