Prediabetic? Weight Loss Can Reverse the Slide Towards Type 2 Diabetes
People who receive a diagnosis of prediabetes can dramatically reduce the likelihood their condition will progress to full-blown type 2 diabetes, provided they lose at least 10% of their body weight within six months of diagnosis. That’s according to a new study by researchers at Johns Hopkins University Medical Center.
Prediabetes is a condition in which blood glucose levels are higher than normal, but not yet high enough to warrant a diagnosis of diabetes. According to the American Diabetes Association, it’s estimated that at least 79 million Americans suffered from prediabetes in 2011. People with prediabetes are often unaware that anything is amiss.
Unlike diabetes, which features symptoms such as excessive thirst, excessive urination, fatigue, etc., prediabetes seldom offers any clues to its presence. Diagnosis is made based on findings from blood tests, such as the fasting plasma glucose level (which measures a patient’s blood glucose levels after eight hours of fasting), or the HbA1C test, which measures levels of a protein circulating in the bloodstream. A1C, as it’s more commonly known, provides a sort of snapshot of a patient’s blood glucose levels over the previous two to three months. Higher levels indicate poor blood sugar control. Doctors have known for some time that weight loss can improve patients’ diagnoses. The new study shows that substantial, but not unrealistic, weight loss of 10% within six months drastically lowers the chances that a person will become diabetic. And that’s a very good thing. Diabetes requires treatment with drugs, and puts patients at increased risk for complications, such as eye, kidney and nerve damage, and a much greater risk of cardiovascular disease.
Nisa M. Maruthur, Yong Ma, Linda M. Delahanty, Julie A. Nelson, Vanita Aroda, Neil H. White, David Marrero, Frederick L. Brancati, Jeanne M. Clark. Early Response to Preventive Strategies in the Diabetes Prevention Program. Journal of General Internal Medicine, 2013; DOI: 10.1007/s11606-013-2548-4