SATURDAY, June 25 (HealthDay News) -- Dietary changes alone can
yield the same benefits as changes in both diet and exercise in the
first year after a person is diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, a new
English researchers found that patients who were encouraged to
lose weight by modifying their diet with the help of a dietician
had the same improvements in blood sugar (glycemic) control, weight
loss, cholesterol and triglyceride levels as those who changed both
their diet and physical activity levels (30 minutes of brisk
walking five times a week).
Both groups achieved about a 10 percent improvement in blood
sugar control, cholesterol and triglyceride levels compared to
patients who received routine care. The two intervention groups
also lost an average of 4 percent of their body weight, while those
in a routine care group had little or no weight loss.
Patients in the routine care group were also three times more
likely than those in the intervention groups to start on diabetes
medication before the end of the study.
"Getting people to exercise is quite difficult, and can be expensive," lead researcher Rob Andrews, a senior lecturer at the University of Bristol, said in an American Diabetes Association news release. "What this study tells us is that if you only have a limited amount of money, in that first year of diagnosis, you should focus on getting the diet right."
He pointed out, however, that the study participants with type 2
diabetes preferred to engage in both exercise and dietary changes.
"They found diet alone quite negative," he said. One reason they
might not have seen an additional benefit from exercise, he added,
"is because people often make a trade. That is, if they go to the
gym, then they feel as if they can have a treat. That could be why
we saw no difference in the weight loss for the diet plus exercise
Andrews suggested that future research focus on determining
whether adding exercise at a later time would make more of a
"[Blood glucose] control gets worse over time. In the early stages, people tend to make rapid improvements and then it stays the same for a while. Adding exercise later might provide another boost in control whereas it wouldn't early on," Andrews said.
The study results were slated to be reported June 24 at a
symposium run by the ADA and
The Lancet at the ADA's Scientific Sessions meeting in San
A second study to be presented at the symposium found that
intensive treatment of type 2 diabetes led to a slight reduction in
cardiovascular disease risk factors.
For that study, nearly half a million people in Denmark, the
Netherlands and the United Kingdom were screened for diabetes. The
3,057 people who were found to have the disease were assigned to
receive either intensive treatment or routine care.
Intensive treatment included lifestyle changes (quitting
smoking, healthier eating, more physical activity), aspirin
treatment, and intensive medication treatment for blood pressure,
blood sugar and lipids (blood fats). Those assigned to routine care
were instructed to use national guidelines for advice on lifestyle
and medical treatment.
Patients in the intensive treatment group showed clinically
significant reductions in blood pressure and cholesterol and small
decreases in weight and blood sugar levels maintained over a
five-year period. The differences were greatest in the reducing the
risk of heart attack and smallest in reducing the risk of
There were no statistically significant differences between the
two groups in rates of heart attack, stroke, cardiovascular deaths
or revascularization, according to the news release.
Experts noted that research presented at medical meetings is
considered preliminary because it has not been subjected to the
rigorous scrutiny required for publication in a medical
The U.S. National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney
Diseases has more about