Research from around the globe over the last twenty years shows that a 7 percent weight loss, healthier calorie-conscious eating and regular physical activity can reverse, halt, or slow the progression of type 2 diabetes. Of course, to continue to halt or slow the progression of prediabetes or progression to type 2 diabetes people need to keep as many of those pounds off as possible, eat healthfully and continue regular physical activity.
The large study on prediabetes done in the US is called the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP). The initial 3 years of the study (the treatment phase), showed that losing about 5 to 7 percent of body weight (from the person's starting body weight) and getting 150 minutes of physical activity (usually walking) a week (30 minutes 5 times a week), helped people slow the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes quite successfully. Yes, research has time and again shown that taking actions to eat less fat, count calories and be more physically active can reverse or slow the progression from prediabetes to type 2 diabetes. Research also has shown that many people can be even more successful adding regular counseling and support to help them make and practice healthier habits. You may want to consider working with a registered dietitian or other trained health professional to increase your likelihood for long term success with weight control and preventing type 2 diabetes.
Participants in the lifestyle change group did better than people who didn’t get this counseling but did take the glucose lowering medication metformin. (Learn more about whether people with prediabetes should take metformin. People in this group reduced progression to type 2 diabetes by about 30 percent versus those who received no treatment (control group).
After following most of the participants in the DPP in the continuing study, the DPP Outcomes Study(DPPOS), at 10 years, those in the original lifestyle change group continued to reduce their progression to type 2 diabetes the most—about 35 percent—and those in the initial metformin group about 20 percent versus standard care. Recently, 15 year data from DPPOS showed continued reduction in the incidence of type 2 diabetes. The original lifestyle group had a 27 percent greater reduction and the metformin group a 17 percent reduced incidence versus standard care.
Learn more details of the DPP and DPPOS at the point when the 10 year data were published here: Prevent/Delay Diabetes? With a Bit of Weight Loss Concludes 10 Year NIH Study.
The actions you need to take to halt or slow the progression of prediabetes and also to slow the progression of type 2 diabetes are:
Lose about 5 to 7 percent of your body weight and keeping those pounds off
Eat healthfully. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, legumes, low fat dairy foods and lighten up higher in fat protein foods and unhealthy fats and oils
Be physically active at least 150 minutes per week
Take a blood glucose lowering and other medications, such as lipid lowering and blood pressure medications, if they’re recommended to control and keep your glucose, lipids and blood pressure under control. Learn more about these targets here.
My book Diabetes Meal Planning Made Easy can help you make the type of step by step changes people did in the diabetes prevention studies around the goal to eat healthier and trim off a few pounds.