Physical inactivity boosts type 2 diabetes mellitus risk

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Researchers at the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention predicted that by 2050, nearly one third of Americans will live with type 2 diabetes mellitus if measures are not taken to curb the epidemic.

The CDC says on its website that in 2007, an estimated 7.8 percent of the U.S. population or about 20 million Americans lived with type 2 diabetes mellitus.

James P Boyle and colleagues, the authors of the study explained in Population Health Metrics that the projected increase in the risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus is due largely to the aging population, increasing numbers of members of higher risk minority groups in the population and longer life-span for people with the disease.

Type 2 diabetes mellitus is a disease that in many cases can be prevented by following a healthy lifestyle. Even those who have acquired the disease may follow a healthy diet or lifestyle to control their condition.

For instance, engaging in physical activity may help reduce risk of developing type 2 diabetes, a study published online on Aug 13, 2010 in the DIABETOLOGIA suggests.

The study led by K. Waller from University of Jyväskylä in Jyväskylä, Finland and colleagues found subjects who were physically active were about 40 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The study is not a trial, meaning that engaging in physical activity may not necessarily lead to a reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus even though the possibility can't be excluded either.

In 1975, Waller et al. started following 8,182 twin pairs who were born prior to 1958 for their physical activity, which was quantified using leisure-time physical activity metabolic equivalent (MET) index h/day). A total of 1,082 cases of Type 2 diabetes were identified from national registers during the 28-year follow-up.

The researchers found among all participants, those in MET quintiles III to V were significantly less likely to be diagnosed with type 2 diabetes mellitus, compared with their sedentary counterparts.

The pairwise analysis on pairs discordant for physical activity indicated that those in MET quintiles II to V had 40 percent reduced risk of type 2 diabetes mellitus, compared with sedentary participants.

Physically active members of twin pairs were about 46 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus, compared with their inactive co-twins after adjustment for body mass index.

Another study published in March 2010 in Diabetes, Research and Clinical Practice showed sufficiently physically active patients with vascular disease or poorly controlled vascular risk factors were 45 percent less likely to develop type 2 diabetes mellitus compared with their counterparts who were not active.

The study led by B.G. Brouwer at the University Medical Center Utrecht in Utrecht, The Netherlands involved 3940 patients with manifest arterial disease, hypertension or hyperlipidemia aged 43 to 67 years.

During an average 4.7-year follow-up, 194 subjects or 5 percent of the study population developed type 2 diabetes mellitus.

The researchers found the protective effect of physical activity was particularly significant in patients who were physically active and were not obese, compared with those who were physically inactive and obese. The risk reduction was 82 percent.

Brouwer et al. concluded that "Leisure-time physical activity is associated with a decreased risk of T2DM (type 2 diabetes mellitus) in patients with manifest arterial disease, or poorly controlled risk factors. The combination of physical activity and non-obesity is associated with an even lower risk of the development of type 2 diabetes than the sum of their independent, protective effect."

Type 2 diabetes affect an estimated 20 million Americans right now.  The disease can cause a range of serious complications including bladder control problems for women, heart disease and stroke, nerve damage, eye disease, erectile dysfunction, foot problems, and kidney failure.

By Jimmy Downs

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