Diabetes prevention: is there more to it than lifestyle changes?

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Over the past years, there has been an explosive increase in the prevalence of type 2 diabetes (T2DM) and this is expected to continue, entailing associated morbidity and mortality. An increasing number of studies explore the different ways T2DM could be prevented. On-going lifestyle modifications need to be addressed. High-risk patients should be given counselling on weight loss, possibly using a low glycaemic index diet, with a target of around 7–10% over 6–12 months, as well as instruction for increasing physical activity to around 150 min of physical exercise weekly (NNT = 4–8). Moderate alcohol consumption and coffee consumption may also be of benefit (NNT = 89 and 66, respectively). Metformin (NNT = 14), acarbose (NNT = 11) and troglitazone (NNT = 6) have been shown to prevent/delay T2DM and angiotensin-converting enzyme (ACE) inhibitors and statins appear to have an adjunctive role (NNT = 42 and 112, respectively). Trials with orlistat and bariatric surgery have also prevented T2DM (NNT = 36 and 6, respectively), and forthcoming treatment with GLP1 mimetics appears promising. Diabetes prevention studies should help create well-defined strategies for screening and treating high-risk populations in the real world, as prevention is our only chance to alleviate the ever growing burden of diabetes mellitus in the world.

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