Intensive lifestyle intervention with plenty of exercise helps people with prediabetes improve their blood glucose levels over a period of years and thus delay or even prevent type 2 diabetes. In particular, individuals with prediabetes at highest risk benefited from intensive lifestyle intervention. This is shown by the evaluation of the Prediabetes Lifestyle Intervention Study (PLIS) of the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD), which was conducted at 8 sites of the center throughout Germany. The results have now been published in the journal Diabetes.
More exercise and healthy eating behavior help many people with prediabetes to normalize their blood glucose levels and avoid developing type 2 diabetes. However, not everyone benefits from a conventional lifestyle intervention (LI). Recent studies show that already in prediabetes, there are different subtypes with different risk profiles. Researchers at the German Center for Diabetes Research (DZD) have therefore investigated in a multicenter randomized controlled trial whether people with prediabetes and a high risk benefit from an intensification of the intervention and how people with a low risk are affected by a conventional LI compared to no lifestyle changes.
The LI lasted 12 months in each case and the follow-up period was a further two years. A total of 1,105 individuals with prediabetes were investigated at various study sites in Germany and assigned to a high-risk or low-risk phenotype based on insulin secretion, insulin sensitivity, and liver fat content. 82% of participants completed the study.
A lot helps a lot — more exercise improves blood glucose and cardiometabolic values
People at high risk — these individuals produce too little insulin or suffer from fatty liver with insulin resistance — were randomly assigned to receive conventional LI according to the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) or a more intensive intervention with double the amount of required exercise. The results showed that more exercise, i.e. more intensive LI, helps people at high risk improve their blood glucose and cardiometabolic levels and reduce liver fat content to within the normal range. Conventional LI is less effective.
Low-risk participants completed a conventional LI or took part in a control group that received only a one-time brief consultation. “After three years, glucose tolerance was more likely to normalize in participants with conventional LI than in those in the control group,” said Professor Hans-Ulrich Häring of the German Center for Diabetes Research and last author of the study. There were hardly any differences in insulin sensitivity and secretion, liver fat content and cardiometabolic risk.
Lifestyle intervention based on risk phenotype improves diabetes prevention
“Our study results show that an individualized LI based on the risk phenotype is beneficial for diabetes prevention,” said study leader Professor Andreas Fritsche from the Institute of Diabetes Research and Metabolic Diseases of Helmholtz Munich at the University of Tübingen (IDM) and the Department of Diabetology, Endocrinology and Nephrology (Director: Professor Andreas Birkenfeld, MD) at Tübingen University Hospital, summarizing the results. “For successful prevention, we need to identify high-risk patients in the future and focus on providing them with an intensified lifestyle intervention.”
1. Andreas Fritsche, Robert Wagner, Martin Heni, Kostantinos Kantartzis, Jürgen Machann, Fritz Schick, Rainer Lehmann, Andreas Peter, Corinna Dannecker, Louise Fritsche, Vera Valenta, Renate Schick, Peter Paul Nawroth, Stefan Kopf, Andreas F.H. Pfeiffer, Stefan Kabisch, Ulrike Dambeck, Michael Stumvoll, Matthias Blüher, Andreas L. Birkenfeld, Peter Schwarz, Hans Hauner, Julia Clavel, Jochen Seißler, Andreas Lechner, Karsten Müssig, Katharina Weber, Michael Laxy, Stefan Bornstein, Annette Schürmann, Michael Roden, Martin Hrabe de Angelis, Norbert Stefan, Hans-Ulrich Häring. Different Effects of Lifestyle Intervention in High- and Low-Risk Prediabetes: Results of the Randomized Controlled Prediabetes Lifestyle Intervention Study (PLIS). Diabetes, 2021; 70 (12): 2785 DOI: 10.2337/db21-0526
Razi Berry is the founder and publisher of the journal Naturopathic Doctor News & Review, which has been in print since 2005, and the premier consumer-faced website of naturopathic medicine, NaturalPath. She is the host of The Love is Medicine Project docuseries, The Natural Cancer Prevention Summit, The Heart Revolution-Heal, Empower and Follow Your Heart, and the popular 10-week Sugar Free Summer program. From a near death experience as a young girl that healed her failing heart, to later overcoming infertility and chronic fatigue syndrome and fibromyalgia through naturopathic medicine, Razi has lived the mind/body healing paradigm. Her projects uniquely capture the tradition and philosophy of naturopathy: The healing power of nature, the vital life force in every living thing and the undeniable role that science and mind/body medicine have in creating health and overcoming dis-ease. You can follow Razi on social media: Facebook at Razi Berry, Instagram at Razi.Berry and join the Love is Medicine group to explore the convergence of love and health. Look for more, and listen to more Love is Medicine podcast episodes here.