The Use of Exercise and Diet in the Remission of Type 2 Diabetes

JUNE 2014.    In a four-year-long study, overweight and obese diabetics placed on a calorie-restrictive diet along with nearly three hours of exercise per week fared much better than controls.  After one year, 11.5 percent of the program participants no longer needed medication to keep their blood sugar levels below the diabetes threshold. Only two percent of the non-intervention group experienced any significant improvement in their condition.

Obesity has now become a greater global health crisis than hunger. It is also the leading cause of disabilities around the world.  According to a national study there’s been a modest decline in obesity rates among 2- to 4-year-olds from poor families. While the cause for the drop is unclear, some of the potential contributors include a massive increase in breastfeeding over the past three decades, and reduced advertising of junk food to young children

Gregg,  EW, Chen H., Wagenknecht, LE, et al.  Association of intensive lifestyle intervention with remission of type 2 diabetes.  JAMA.  2012, 308(23): 2489-96.  

Eric’s Thoughts
In a discussion about this article from health guru Dr. Joseph Mercola, he states he’s been talking about the use of exercise and diabetes as a primary treatment for type 2 diabetes for 16 years.  Well – looking back into the health archieves here at Medical Health and Fitness – we’ve found one of the original articles from Prevention Magazine on the topic – Pills or Diet for Diabetics? In their December 1967 issue (vol. 19, no. 12, pg. 51).  In this article, Rodale discusses a couple of important point.  First – much of the credit back then to “new” oral agents Diabinese and Orinase had more to do with diet changes (restriction of calories and change in eating processed foods), than just the medication.  Second – the use of specific oral agents were suspect in certain side effects of taking the medication, such as skin disorders, jaundice, and intermittent hypoglycemia.   Over the past 40 years patients have been taking oral medications, and more so injectable insulin treatments, and this has done little to stem the course of their disease.  In fact – they have had hyperinsulinemia that affects their cardiovascular risk factors, as reported by Dr. Robert Stout in 1992 (Diabetes and Atherosclerosis, Kluwer Academic Publishers).

With the mountains of information for decades on the problems with traditional medical treatments for diabetes, it seems that the only sensible and long term therapy for total care is a daily exercise program and a specific diet that deals with glycemic control independent of drugs.  It may be that this latest research will give a much-needed push to the diabetes profession to include exercise (and reimburse for it) as part of a comprehensive diabetes control program.