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Type II Diabetes Prevention

Medical expert Dr. Mohan S. Palaniswami answers common questions about diabetes:

Q: My Mother has type II diabetes. What can I do to prevent it?

Q: My Mother has type II diabetes. What can I do to prevent it?

A: Type 2 diabetes is the most common type of diabetes in the United States, with more than 16 million Americans affected, and is the sixth-leading cause of death. Diabetes can cause several debilitating conditions, such as blindness, kidney disease (sometimes requiring dialysis), heart disease and amputations. Unlike type 1 diabetes, type 2 more commonly begins in adulthood and predominates in overweight individuals.

Recently, a study called the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study studied adults with an average BMI (Body Mass Index) of 31 (over 25 is thought to be overweight and greater than 30 is thought to be obese), an average age of 55, and an impaired glucose tolerance. Impaired glucose tolerance, also called "prediabetes," increases the chance of a person developing type 2 diabetes. One group received nutritional counseling seven times a year and was started on exercise programs concentrating on muscle strengthening. The other group received yearly counseling with a nutritionist and a physician. At the end of the study, there was a 58-percent reduction in the development of diabetes in the group who participated in the exercise program.

Several other studies have shown that healthy lifestyle changes, including exercise and weight loss, can delay or prevent the onset of type 2 diabetes in people who have prediabetes.

This news is encouraging for families of those who have developed diabetes, or for women who have had gestational diabetes. Both these groups are at increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes. And both may be able to decrease that risk, by following a careful diet and moderate exercise program.

For more information, visit the ADA Web site.