Food for Thought

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It’s all in the family. 
The road to type 2 diabetes can run in the family. In fact, a family history of diabetes is a major risk factor. What are your odds? It’s estimated that having:

  • one parent with diabetes doubles your risk 
  • both parents with diabetes increases your risk up to six times 
  • a brother or sister with type 2 diabetes increases your risk more than four times. 

Don’t be despondent. Even if type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes runs in your family, there’s plenty you can do to keep diabetes at bay. For example, clinical trials have shown that three out of five people with pre-diabetes can avoid type 2 diabetes simply by improving their diet, losing a bit of weight (and keeping it off) and becoming (and staying) more active.

PREVIEW, an international study involving 8 different countries and 15 partners, is currently underway to identify the most efficient lifestyle intervention pattern for preventing type 2 diabetes in people who have pre-diabetes, are overweight or obese (i.e. at high risk). “The aim of this study is to find out the best methods (through diet, exercise and behavioural modification) of maintaining weight loss and keeping diabetes at bay. Volunteers for this study will have their own team of professionals dedicated to their weight loss and weight loss maintenance, all free of charge,” says Prof Jennie Brand-Miller.

“Here at the University of Sydney, we’re going to compare two diets and two forms of exercise. So first of all we will randomise eligible participants with pre-diabetes to either a high protein/low GI diet, or to the conventional healthy diet. Then we will split each dietary group into two again. One group will be doing the equivalent of 150 minutes a week of moderate intensity exercise, like a brisk walk. The other group will do something that’s a little bit more intense, it will involve puffing but they only have to do half as many minutes per week. So what we’re doing is we’re going to build up slowly with the help of exercise physiologists to doing, say, 15 minutes five days a week where you puff.

The 3-year study itself is in two parts. For the first 8 weeks (phase 1), we will get participants to lose about 8% of their body weight using meal replacement milkshakes – we provide all the milkshakes. Those who lose 8% of their body weight are then eligible for phase 2, the maintaining weight loss phase. We are trying to prevent our successful losers from putting the weight back on. If you live in Sydney (Australia) and are interested in taking part, see below for details for applying or for finding out more about it.” 

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