A new study conducted by Umeå University and the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge highlighted the importance of weight stability and weight gain when preventing type 2 diabetes in adults. The study examined data from over 33,000 people in Sweden and the public health strategies used in preventing adults from gaining weight. The population used in the study had the potential to develop type 2 diabetes. The findings of the study was published in BMC Public Health.
Adina Feldman, a researcher at the Medical Research Council Epidemiology Unit at the University of Cambridge said a strategy that is population-based to promote the prevention of weight gain in adulthood has the capability of preventing more than two times as many cases of diabetes as a strategy that simply promotes weight loss in individuals who are both obese and at high risk of developing diabetes. People who have a high body mass index (BMI) and have “higher than normal blood glucose” are at greater risk for developing the disease. While this method may be useful for these people, for the population as a whole, it is limited.
Type 2 diabetes or diabetes mellitus type 2 is a long-term metabolic disorder which is characterized by high blood sugar, insulin resistance, and a relative lack of insulin. Common symptoms of diabetes include increased hunger, and thirst, frequent urination, feeling tired, slow to heal sores, and unexplained weight loss. If left unchecked, diabetes can lead to long-term complications including heart disease, stroke, diabetic retinopathy, kidney failure, and poor blood flow which may lead to amputations.
The study was conducted to determine if shifting the diabetes prevention strategies to the entire population helped prevent the disease. The participants were aged 30 to 60 who received two health examinations yearly for ten years between 1990 and 2013. This was part of the Västerbotten Intervention Programme (VIP). The researcher analyzed the data and determined the “association between change in body weight between baseline and ten-year follow-up and occurrence of newly diagnosed diabetes at ten-year follow-up.” Researchers took into account factors such as age, sex, education, family history of diabetes, the calendar year, tobacco use, and marital status.
Researchers found that just over a 1,000 people developed diabetes. Nearly half of the participants gained weight while a third maintained their starting weight. The study found that if the participants who did gain weight had instead kept it, of all type 2 diabetes cases in the population 1 in 5 could have been prevented. This was compared to just targeting those with high BMI’s where diabetes could only be avoided in one in ten people.
Patrik Wennberg, a researcher at the Department of Public Health and Clinical Medicine at Umeå University and co-author of the study said from a public health perspective, when looking at body weight and diabetes, it is best to consider both high-risk and population-based strategies to prevent diabetes. The researchers cautioned others about the data presented regarding weight gain and type 2 diabetes.
By Cheryl Werber