About 8% of the American population has type II diabetes. Type II diabetes exists when the body becomes insensitive to insulin and thereby has an increasingly difficult time handling sugar. Research published in the New England Journal of Medicine (February 7, 2002;346:393-403) shows that lifestyle change outperforms both drugs and placebo for prevention of diabetes.
The researchers compared the drug Glucophage (which helps the body to better respond to insulin) to weight-loss and exercise. The subjects of the study were 3200 non-diabetic men and women with an average age 51 and a tendency toward high blood sugar. The average body mass index (BMI) of the participants was 34 (a BMI over 30 is considered obese).
Two groups of subjects were given either Glucophage, or a placebo. A third group made changes in their lifestyle designed to get the subjects to lose 7% of their weight (including 2 ½ hours of physical activity each week).
Over the next three years, the group that exercised and changed their diet had a 58% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes than people in the placebo group. Those given Glucophage only cut their diabetes risk by 31%.