Weight loss can go a long way toward preventing diabetes. *MCT photo
Weight loss can go a long way toward preventing diabetes. *MCT photo

People with pre-diabetes could dramatically cut their chance of developing type 2 diabetes by losing ten per cent of their body weight within six months of diagnosis.

This is according to the results of research conducted by scientists at Johns Hopkins.

Investigators say the findings offer patients and physicians a guide to how short-term behaviour change can affect long-term health.

Study leader at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Nisa Maruthur, said: “We have known for some time that the greater the weight loss, the lower your risk of diabetes.

“Now we understand that we can see much of the benefit of losing that weight in those first six months when people are adjusting to a new way to eating and exercising. 

Substantial weight loss in the short term clearly should go a long way toward preventing diabetes.” 


According to the Department of Health and Bermuda Health Council report Healthcare in Review 2010, some 13 to 18 per cent of Bermuda’s population has diabetes which is considered to be epidemic proportions. The Bermuda Diabetes Association’s diabetes educator Sara McKittrick, said that it is believed some 25 per cent could be affected.

Uncontrolled diabetes, marked by excess sugar in the blood, can lead to eye, kidney and nerve damage as well as cardiovascular disease. 

The new research suggests that if people with pre-diabetes don’t lose enough weight in those first months, physicians may want to consider more aggressive treatment, such as adding a medication to push blood sugar levels lower.

A report on the research is published online today in the Journal of General Internal Medicine.

 Maruthur and her colleagues based their conclusions on analysis of data from the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), the largest diabetes prevention study in the United States.


Overweight, hyperglycemic people were recruited between 1996 and 1999 and followed for an average of 3.2 years. 

More than 3,000 participants at 27 academic medical centers were assigned at random either to receive an intense lifestyle intervention, doses of the diabetes drug metformin designed to reduce blood glucose (sugar) levels, or a placebo. 

Maruthur and her colleagues searched the study information for links among short-term weight loss, reduction of blood glucose levels and impact on the longer-term risk of developing diabetes.

The good news, Maruthur says, is that studies like hers show that the progression from pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes is not inevitable and lifestyle changes can bring blood sugar levels back to normal. 

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