Helsingin yliopisto


Helsingin yliopiston verkkojulkaisut

University of Helsinki, Helsinki 2006

Prevention of type 2 diabetes with lifestyle intervention - emphasis on dietary composition and identification of high-risk individuals

Jaana Lindström

Doctoral dissertation, November 2006.
University of Helsinki, Faculty of Medicine, Department of Public Health and National Public Health Institute, Department of Health Promotion and Chronic Disease Prevention.

Type 2 diabetes is an increasing, serious, and costly public health problem. The increase in the prevalence of the disease can mainly be attributed to changing lifestyles leading to physical inactivity, overweight, and obesity. These lifestyle-related risk factors offer also a possibility for preventive interventions. Until recently, proper evidence regarding the prevention of type 2 diabetes has been virtually missing. To be cost-effective, intensive interventions to prevent type 2 diabetes should be directed to people at an increased risk of the disease.

The aim of this series of studies was to investigate whether type 2 diabetes can be prevented by lifestyle intervention in high-risk individuals, and to develop a practical method to identify individuals who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes and would benefit from such an intervention.

To study the effect of lifestyle intervention on diabetes risk, we recruited 522 volunteer, middle-aged (aged 40 - 64 at baseline), overweight (body mass index > 25 kg/m2) men (n = 172) and women (n = 350) with impaired glucose tolerance to the Diabetes Prevention Study (DPS). The participants were randomly allocated either to the intensive lifestyle intervention group or the control group. The control group received general dietary and exercise advice at baseline, and had annual physician's examination. The participants in the intervention group received, in addition, individualised dietary counselling by a nutritionist. They were also offered circuit-type resistance training sessions and were advised to increase overall physical activity. The intervention goals were to reduce body weight (5% or more reduction from baseline weight), limit dietary fat (< 30% of total energy consumed) and saturated fat (< 10% of total energy consumed), and to increase dietary fibre intake (15 g / 1000 kcal or more) and physical activity (≥ 30 minutes/day). Diabetes status was assessed annually by a repeated 75 g oral glucose tolerance testing. First analysis on end-points was completed after a mean follow-up of 3.2 years, and the intervention phase was terminated after a mean duration of 3.9 years. After that, the study participants continued to visit the study clinics for the annual examinations, for a mean of 3 years.

The intervention group showed significantly greater improvement in each intervention goal. After 1 and 3 years, mean weight reductions were 4.5 and 3.5 kg in the intervention group and 1.0 kg and 0.9 kg in the control group. Cardiovascular risk factors improved more in the intervention group. After a mean follow-up of 3.2 years, the risk of diabetes was reduced by 58% in the intervention group compared with the control group. The reduction in the incidence of diabetes was directly associated with achieved lifestyle goals. Furthermore, those who consumed moderate-fat, high-fibre diet achieved the largest weight reduction and, even after adjustment for weight reduction, the lowest diabetes risk during the intervention period. After discontinuation of the counselling, the differences in lifestyle variables between the groups still remained favourable for the intervention group. During the post-intervention follow-up period of 3 years, the risk of diabetes was still 36% lower among the former intervention group participants, compared with the former control group participants.

To develop a simple screening tool to identify individuals who are at high risk of type 2 diabetes, follow-up data of two population-based cohorts of 35-64 year old men and women was used. The National FINRISK Study 1987 cohort (model development data) included 4435 subjects, with 182 new drug-treated cases of diabetes identified during ten years, and the FINRISK Study 1992 cohort (model validation data) included 4615 subjects, with 67 new cases of drug-treated diabetes during five years, ascertained using the Social Insurance Institution's Drug register. Baseline age, body mass index, waist circumference, history of antihypertensive drug treatment and high blood glucose, physical activity and daily consumption of fruits, berries or vegetables were selected into the risk score as categorical variables. In the 1987 cohort the optimal cut-off point of the risk score identified 78% of those who got diabetes during the follow-up (= sensitivity of the test) and 77% of those who remained free of diabetes (= specificity of the test). In the 1992 cohort the risk score performed equally well. The final Finnish Diabetes Risk Score (FINDRISC) form includes, in addition to the predictors of the model, a question about family history of diabetes and the age category of over 64 years. When applied to the DPS population, the baseline FINDRISC value was associated with diabetes risk among the control group participants only, indicating that the intensive lifestyle intervention given to the intervention group participants abolished the diabetes risk associated with baseline risk factors.

In conclusion, the intensive lifestyle intervention produced long-term beneficial changes in diet, physical activity, body weight, and cardiovascular risk factors, and reduced diabetes risk. Furthermore, the effects of the intervention were sustained after the intervention was discontinued. The FINDRISC proved to be a simple, fast, inexpensive, non-invasive, and reliable tool to identify individuals at high risk of type 2 diabetes. The use of FINDRISC to identify high-risk subjects, followed by lifestyle intervention, provides a feasible scheme in preventing type 2 diabetes, which could be implemented in the primary health care system.

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Last updated 03.11.2006

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