Frequently Asked Questions

10. How can weight loss and exercise help?

The Diabetes Prevention Program is a landmark study by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases. DPP researchers found that adults at high risk for type 2 diabetes were able to cut their risk in half by losing a modest amount of weight and exercising three to five times a week. This means losing 5 to 7 percent of body weight (that's 10 pounds if you weigh 200 pounds) and getting 150 minutes of physical activity a week. The drug metformin reduced the risk of type 2 diabetes by 34 percent but was more effective in younger, and heavier adults.

The benefits of weight loss and regular exercise have long-lasting value. In a DPP follow-up trial known as the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcome Study (DPPOS), people at risk of type 2 diabetes who kept off the weight they had lost and who continued to exercise regularly delayed the onset of type 2 diabetes by about 4 years.

The DPP also showed that modest weight loss (achieved by following a low calorie, low-fat diet) and moderate physical activity was especially effective in preventing or delaying the development of diabetes in older people. In fact, people over the age of 60 were able to reduce their risk for developing type 2 diabetes by 71 percent.