Tuesday, 8 April 2014
Daqing strikes gold with diabetes prevention study
The oil town of Daqing in north China is now becoming famous for something quite different - preventing diabetes.
Results from a 23-year study conducted in the city have show that people at risk of diabetes can avoid progressing to the disease and almost halve their risk of death by adopting a healthier diet and doing more exercise.
The findings from the study, published in the Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology this week have been hailed as a breakthough by international experts because they answer many of the difficult questions about how diabetes may be prevented and its harms minimised.
The study started in 1986, when 577 people with impaired glucose tolerance were assigned to either an intervention group that received advice on diet and/or exercise, or a control group. The lifestyle coaching sessions lasted for six years during which participants received regular encouragement to eat more vegetables and consume less sugar and alcohol, and encouraged them to do more physical activity in their spare time.
Now after more than 20 years of follow up, researchers have found that the people who received the lifestyle advice had a cardiovascular death rate of 1% compared to 20% in the control group. The overall death rate was 28% in the lifestyle group compared to 38% in the control group. Rates of progression to diabetes were 73% in the lifestyle group and 90% in the control group.
"These findings emphasise the long-term clinical benefits of lifestyle intervention for patients with impaired glucose tolerance and provide further justification for adoption of lifestyle interventions as public health measures to control the consequences of diabetes," said lead study author Professor Li Guangwei of the Department of Endocrinology at the China-Japan Friendship Hospital, Beijing.
Commenting on the findings, Professor Nicholas Wareham of Cambridge University said the study was a "real breakthrough, showing that lifestyle intervention can reduce the risk of long-term cardiovascular consequences of diabetes." He said the study showed that lifestyle change could be achieved in the real world and it was notable that the effects were particularly strong in women.