Weight-loss regimens can feel extremely discouraging, in part because so many women expect to see a big change on the scale in just a few months, if not weeks. There is also a common belief that drastic improvements to health only come with dramatic weight loss. However, new research has made it clear that it’s time to bust that myth.
According to a recent study published in JAMA Internal Medicine, losing just a few pounds by making a few lifestyle changes can reduce a person’s risk of developing type 2 diabetes by a stunning 40 to 47 percent. Plus, those who already have type 2 diabetes may be able to reverse or improve the condition by implementing considerable lifestyle changes into their routine.
The research comes from the Norfolk Diabetes Prevention Study (NDPS). In the last 30 years, it proved to be the biggest diabetes prevention research study in the world and took place over eight years, beginning in 2011. Investigators began by recruiting 1,028 participants who were hyperglycemic or had already developed type 2 diabetes. Participants were then randomly split into three groups: Those who received no intervention, those who took part in an intervention program, and those who took part in the program, but received additional support from mentors trained in diabetes prevention. The intervention program involved education, group-based diets, and group-based physical activity. Note that participants who already had diabetes were evenly split among the three groups.
Over the course of the study, 156 hyperglycemic participants ended up developing type 2 diabetes. In addition, participants in all three groups didn’t lose a significant amount of weight. The biggest difference, however, came in determining the likelihood that each hyperglycemic person would be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. As it turns out, members of the intervention-only group were less likely to develop the disease than those in the no-intervention group. Members of the intervention-plus-mentoring group were even less likely to be diagnosed. When scientists accounted for variables such as age and economic status, they found that the findings did not change.
As such, researchers concluded that simple lifestyle adjustments, such as exercising more frequently, modifying your diet, and losing a little weight (just 4 to 6 pounds) can significantly lower your risk of type 2 diabetes.
Previous research backs up these findings. In a systematic review of several studies, published in the journal Nutrients, investigators found that lifestyle changes, such as increased exercise and a lower intake of unhealthy foods, can delay the onset of type 2 diabetes. Consistency in these changes can also keep risk low. As reported by the American Diabetes Association, 88 million Americans are hyperglycemic, and 34.2 million have diabetes. It’s therefore crucially important to raise awareness and uncover the best practices for diabetes prevention.
So, if you’re ready to reduce your risk of diabetes, where do you begin? Consider starting with small, but consistent changes. For example, alter your food choices to healthy ones for one meal every day, and gradually build on those food swaps after you’ve been consistent for some time. You might also stop focusing on weight loss altogether. Instead of thinking about what you are losing, think about what you are gaining in your life, in terms of exercise and healthy foods. Focusing on consistency and positivity, rather than fast results and drastic changes, might make it a whole lot easier to transform your lifestyle for good.