Public health programmes aimed at maintaining or losing weight could prevent twice as many cases of type 2 diabetes in the UK, according to new research.
A study of more than 33,000 people aged between 30 and 60 in Sweden took part in the University of Cambridge research, which looked at how effective public health programmes could be in reducing type 2 diabetes rates.
“We have shown that a population-based strategy that promotes prevention of weight gain in adulthood has the potential to prevent more than twice as many diabetes cases as a strategy that only promotes weight loss in obese individuals at high risk of diabetes,” said first author Dr Adina Feldma, University of Cambridge.
The findings also suggested that one in five type 2 diabetes cases could be prevented if people managed to maintain their weight and did not put any on.
The Cambridge researchers now think that public health initiatives focus on preventing weight gain are more effective at limiting type 2 diabetes numbers, rather than targeting people who are already obese and at risk of the condition.
Each participant in the Vasterbotten Intervention Programme was asked to attend a heath examination between 1990 and 2013. The researchers noted any significant body weight changes and the prevalence of type 2 diabetes at each appointment, 10 years apart.
After more than 10 years, 3.3 per cent of the study participants had type 2 diabetes, 53.9 per cent had put on two pounds in weight and 36.2 per cent had managed to retain their original weight.
The findings suggest that those who had put two pounds on or more had a 52 per cent higher risk of a type 2 diagnosis. But their risk was still lower compared to someone whose Body Mass Index (BMI) is classified as obese.
“When it comes to body weight and diabetes, from a public health perspective it would be advisable to consider both high-risk and population-based strategies for diabetes prevention,” added Dr Feldman added.
In the study, which has been published in the BMC Public Health journal, the authors noted: “Weight maintenance in adulthood is strongly associated with reduced incident diabetes risk and there is considerable potential for diabetes prevention in promoting this as a whole population strategy.”
Editor’s note: People at high risk of type 2 diabetes, known as prediabetes, lose an average of 5kg after six months of joining the Low Carb Program, helping to reduce their risk of developing type 2 diabetes.

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