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Pedometer could cut Type 2 diabetes risk by half

Monday 04 January 2010

Using a pedometer as part of a structured education programme could reduce the chances of Type 2 diabetes by more than 50 per cent in those at risk of developing the condition, reveals a new Diabetes UK-funded study out today.

98 people with prediabetes – a precursor to Type 2 diabetes where you have raised blood glucose (sugar) levels – took part in the study to assess the effectiveness of the Prediabetes Risk Education and Physical Activity Recommendation and Encouragement (PREPARE) programme and see whether using a pedometer helps people to sustain increased physical activity levels.

Part of a healthy lifestyle

PREPARE offers a three hour group education session about prediabetes and the role of a healthy lifestyle in preventing Type 2 diabetes. For the study, a control group was given only a brief information leaflet, another group took part in the education session and another was given both the education session and a pedometer. The pedometer group was helped to set personalised ‘steps-per-day’ targets, aimed at achieving at least 30 minutes of walking activity each day. All groups were followed up after three, six and 12 months.

Taking action

Blood glucose levels, which were tested after participants ingested a standardised amount of sugar, were reduced by 15 per cent in the pedometer group after a year compared to the control group. This reduction was greater than that reported after one year in the most successful European and American studies of this kind. These studies did not include pedometer use but found that the risk of diabetes was reduced by up to 58 per cent over the longer term. Therefore, the PREPARE researchers claim that if current results are sustained then their study will be at least as successful as this.

Dr Iain Frame, Research Director at leading health charity Diabetes UK, said: “Prediabetes affects an estimated seven million people in the UK and puts you at up to fifteen times more risk of developing Type 2 diabetes.

“By finding new ways to educate and motivate people with prediabetes we are aiming to stop the Type 2 diabetes epidemic in its tracks and prevent millions of people developing serious complications of the condition such as heart disease, stroke, kidney failure, blindness and amputation.

“This study shows that we can and must take action to prevent Type 2 diabetes, particularly if the benefits can be shown in a larger number of people and over a sustained period of time.”

Long term evaluation

Lead researcher Dr Thomas Yates, from the Department of Cardiovascular Sciences at the University of Leicester, added: “Our study proves that using a pedometer as part of a structured education programme can really improve health outcomes for people with prediabetes.

“Using lifestyle interventions such as PREPARE to stop people developing Type 2 diabetes and its complications could save the NHS a fortune. This is particularly relevant to the Government’s Health Check Programme, which focuses on the prevention of vascular disease, including Type 2 diabetes.

“The impressive results of this study are already being recognised and the programme is now being implemented in Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) in England and Ireland. Longer-term evaluation of its impact continues both in these PCTs and in the original study participants.”