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Effective preventative therapies for type 2 diabetes are underused, new research argues

Published on 30/10/18 at 10:31am

New research has warned that interventions which can effectively delay or prevent the development of type 2 diabetes are not being used to their full potential, with many being expensive or not readily accessible.

Tools including medication, surgery and lifestyle interventions have effectively demonstrated their ability to aid in the treatment of prediabetes, a precursor to the type 2 form of the condition, in around 70% of patients by facilitating weight loss. At the moment around one third of adults in the US have prediabetes, and over 70% are overweight or obese.

Specifically, lifestyle intervention tends to take the form of supportive group therapy with a focus on healthy eating and exercise, a method which was shown to reduce the incidence of type 2 diabetes by 58% in 3,200 participants with prediabetes, and this figure stood at 34% even a decade after the study.

Though they can still help, medications such as metformin actually prove less effective than lifestyle interventions, but surgery has proved the most effective with a relative risk reduction of 78%.

The research argues that inability of patients to access these effective interventions is causing the prevalence of type 2 diabetes to rise.

"We know that it's much more cost effective to prevent disease than to treat it, particularly when it comes to diabetes. The short-term focus on immediate costs means patients are missing out on the opportunity to keep their disease from progressing. It's a false economy and if nothing changes, a third of Americans are expected to have diabetes by 2050," explained Dr Jay Shubrook, Professor in the Primary Care Department at the Touro University California College of Osteopathic Medicine.

"Weight loss is a central treatment target for most chronic diseases because the benefit is spread across numerous conditions. We have the tools to change the trajectory for millions of patients at risk for diabetes. Using them wisely will save not only money, but lives, in the long run."

Matt Fellows

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