Community approach effective in reducing diabetes over the long term

A diabetes prevention program led by community health workers was shown to effectively reduce blood glucose and potentially reduce diabetes over the long term, according to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine.

The study included 301 overweight or obese participants with elevated fasting blood glucose, a common indicator of prediabetes, in and around Forsyth County, N.C. The participants were randomly assigned to a group-based, lifestyle weight-loss intervention (LWL) or an enhanced usual care comparison (UCC).

The lifestyle weight-loss interventions were conducted by community health workers in parks and recreation centers, rather than by health care professionals in clinical settings. Fasting blood glucose, insulin, insulin resistance, body weight, body mass index (BMI) and waist circumference were assessed every 6 months for 24 months.

The researchers found that significant reductions in body weight, body mass index, waist circumference, fasting blood glucose, insulin and insulin resistance achieved during the first year of the program by the LWL group were largely maintained during the second year, compared with the UCC group. At 24 months, the percentage of volunteers who lost 5% or more of their initial body weight was 46.5% in the LWL group compared with 15% in the UCC group.

“We wanted to take this intervention out to people in the community rather than having them have to come to us in a clinical setting,” Jeff Katula, PhD, the study’s lead author and assistant professor of health and exercise sciences at Wake Forest University and joint assistant professor of epidemiology and prevention at Wake Forest Baptist, stated in a news release. “Given the high prevalence of obesity and metabolic syndrome and risk for diabetes, our study shows we can provide an effective program in a community setting.”

For more information:

Katula JA. Am J Prev Med. 2013. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2012.12.015

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