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Jun 14, 2012

Treating Prediabetes Can Prevent Full-Blown Diabetes

Researchers found that people achieving normal blood sugar levels, even for a short period of time, were significantly less likely to develop diabetes.

Diabetes statistics are hard to ignore. Diabetes affects nearly 26 million Americans, many of whom are completely unaware of their condition. And worse, more than a third of U.S. adults have elevated blood sugar, known as prediabetes, which is a warning sign for the full-blown condition. Because diabetes can lead to serious health complications, such as heart disease and kidney failure, the more we know about prevention the better.  In a recent study published in The Lancet, researchers have come one step closer to understanding this disease.

During this study, nearly 2,000 patients with prediabetes participated in various interventions to help promote blood sugar control. After following these patients for up to 7 years, researchers found that those achieving normal blood sugar, even for a short period of time, were significantly less likely to develop diabetes. This was true across the board, regardless of which intervention patients received.

So why are these findings so important? They could help identify patients with the best shot at preventing or delaying the development of diabetes, who could benefit the most from aggressive treatment. For the individual patient, the opportunity to delay or even prevent developing this condition is very important, since diabetes requires close care and puts the body at increased risk for serious complications. On a national scale, opportunities are even greater. With one-third of Americans already prediabetic, preventing diabetes in even a fraction of this population could save millions of lives. Although further research is still needed on the topic, initial findings are promising and could lead to a better understanding of diabetes and how to prevent it. 

Questions for You to Consider

  • What is the difference between type 1 and type 2 diabetes?

  • Type 1 diabetes occurs when the body does not produce any insulin—a hormone that converts sugar into energy. This type of diabetes is often diagnosed in children and young adults and cannot be prevented. Type 2 diabetes, however, occurs when the body resists insulin or does not produce enough insulin, and can be prevented in some patients.
  • How can I prevent type 2 diabetes?

  • Although unknown exactly why some individuals develop type 2 diabetes and some don’t, there are some known risk factors for this condition, like being overweight and inactive. There are also risk factors that can’t be controlled, such as family history, age and race.

Related

The Role of Physical Activity in the Maintenance of Type 2 Diabetes

Getting 150 minutes of exercise weekly improves blood sugar control in diabetics.

Experts Alarmed by Diabetes Trends

Global diabetes rates are at an all-time high and expected to increase in coming years.

Mediterranean and Low-Carb Diet Reduces Diabetes Risk

Study finds that a low-carb, Mediterranean diet decreases risk for developing type 2 diabetes.

Healthy Diet Protects Diabetic Patients against Kidney Disease

Study finds that a well-balanced diet reduces chronic kidney disease risk in patients with type 2 diabetes.