Nearly 20% of people with prediabetes in Taiwan may have avoided a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes if they had taken part in a greater amount of exercise, according to British researchers.
The University of Birmingham team aimed to investigate the impact of leisure time activity on the risk of people being diagnosed with type 2 diabetes.
To do this, the research team reviewed data from adults in Taiwan (an island in the Republic of China) with impaired fasting glycemia (IFG). IFG is a form of prediabetes that presents a high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, particularly if no lifestyle changes are made.
The study involved 44,828 Chinese people aged between 20 and 80 years old with a recent diagnosis of IFG. The data gave the researchers a chance to review the likelihood of developing type 2 diabetes over an 18-year period between 1996 and 2014. Levels of exercise in the participants were categorised as being inactive of having low, moderate or high-volume leisure-time physical activity (LTPA).
The results of the study showed that compared to inactive participants, those with prediabetes who engaged in high-volume physical activity had a 25% reduction in the risk of developing type 2 diabetes over the reviewed period. The low and moderate activity participants showed 12% and 20% reductions in diabetes risk compared to the inactive participants.
Overall, the researchers calculated that 19.2% of cases of type 2 diabetes could have been avoided if the participants had engaged in the amount of weekly exercise recommended by the World Health Organisation.
The WHO suggests adults aged between 18 and 64 carry out at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity or 75 minutes of vigorous-intensity exercise throughout the week.
Professor Neil Thomas, from the University of Birmingham’s Institute of Applied Health Research, stated: “In the approximately 370 million Chinese adults with IFG, increasing LTPA by one category – for example, from low to moderate – would correspond to a potential reduction of at least seven million cases of diabetes. It may also offset the rapid increases in diabetes resulting from population aging and China’s ongoing obesity epidemic.”
The study is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

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