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Body Mass Index, not sugar intake, is the main causal factor for type 2 diabetes, according to a new study. The Roy Morgan study of diabetic Australians found that while people with type 2 diabetes tended to eat better than non-diabetics, they generally had a much higher than normal BMI.
Several studies have indicated that there is little to no relationship between sugar consumption and type 2 diabetes, according to Alere Health’s Dr John Lang, who commissioned the study. Instead, weight is the prevailing factor.
“In the largest trial conducted to date, the Nurses’ Health Study, with thirty-eight thousand participants, no increase in type 2 diabetes risk was found in the cohort with the highest sugar consumption. We need to focus on the main game – weight management,” Dr Lang said.
South Australians most at risk for diabetes
More than 2 million Australians, about 10 per cent of the population, are considered pre-diabetic. Rural South Australians were most likely to develop type 2 diabetes, with about 30 per cent higher risk than the average Australian. Adelaide residents were also the most likely to develop the disease when lined up against every other capital city.
These people could be saved from diabetes with simple, structured weight loss programs that promote sustainable exercise and long-term fat reduction, the study said, supporting claims from the Harvard School of Public Health that 90 per cent of type 2 diabetes is preventable, despite it being the fastest growing chronic disease in the country.
How much weight must be lost to prevent diabetes?
For those who are already pre-diabetic, losing 10 per cent of their body weight within six months of diagnosis will dramatically reduce diabetes risk over the next three years, a study from the John Hopkins University School of Medicine found this July.
“We have known for some time that the greater the weight loss, the lower your risk of diabetes,” study leader Dr Nisa Maruthur said.
“Now we understand that we can see much of the benefit of losing that weight in those first six months when people are adjusting to a new way to eating and exercising. Substantial weight loss in the short term clearly should go a long way toward preventing diabetes.”
While weight loss of 10 per cent resulted in diabetes risk decrease of 85 per cent, even smaller weight reductions of 5 to 7 per cent reduced their risk by 54 per cent.
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