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LMU 72 – Unveiling the Power to Prevent Diabetes: A Path Forward for Canadians


LMU 72 – Unveiling the Power to Prevent Diabetes: A Path Forward for Canadians

Source: Journal American Medical Association – Internal Medicine (November 2017)

Lifestyle Medicine Update (November 17, 2017)


In the heart of Canada’s health landscape, a concerning reality unfolds – a staggering 2 million individuals grapple with diabetes, while an additional 7 million teeter on the brink of pre-diabetes, a harbinger of future health woes. This staggering statistic encompasses almost a third of the population, shedding light on the urgent need for intervention. Pre-diabetes, marked by fasting glucose levels ranging from 5.7 to 6.9 mmol/L, often accompanies other risk factors such as excessive abdominal fat, elevated blood pressure, high triglycerides, or low HDL-cholesterol. These statistics resonate beyond borders, as the U.S. mirrors a similar narrative with a diabetic and pre-diabetic cohort totalling a staggering 100 million individuals. In the U.S., a notable 9.4% of the population already battles diabetes. The magnitude of this issue necessitates exploration, as a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine sets the stage for a potential paradigm shift in diabetes prevention strategies.

The Looming Menace: Pre-diabetes and Diabetes in Canada

Within Canada’s diverse fabric lies an alarming health challenge, one that involves a significant portion of the populace. With 2 million diabetics and 7 million individuals navigating the precipice of pre-diabetes, equivalent to almost a third of the population, the threat looms large. Pre-diabetes is not merely an isolated numeric range; it is accompanied by a constellation of risk factors. Abdominal fat, as indicated by a waist circumference exceeding 36 inches for men and 33 inches for women, casts its ominous shadow. The presence of high blood pressure, elevated triglyceride levels, or diminished HDL-cholesterol further compounds the predicament. Such an intricate landscape beckons for innovative interventions.

The Quest for Prevention: A Meta-analysis Unveiled

Amidst this health landscape, a study published on November 6, 2017, in JAMA Internal Medicine resounds with hope. This meta-analysis of 43 international studies delved into the realm of pre-diabetes, aiming to uncover strategies that thwart its evolution into full-blown diabetes. The study resoundingly affirms the paramount importance of lifestyle modifications in this pursuit. Shedding those extra pounds surfaces as the cornerstone, as each kilogram of weight loss correlates with a remarkable 7% reduction in diabetes risk progression. The analysis embraced 43 studies, collectively revealing that lifestyle changes, from dietary adjustments to exercise, emerge as the most potent armament against the looming threat.

The Vanguard of Change: Lifestyle Modification

Within the 19 trials centred on lifestyle modification, an average treatment span of 2.6 years illuminated compelling outcomes. Patients who embraced dietary changes, exercise, or a combination thereof, charted a remarkable 39% lower risk of diabetes diagnosis compared to their non-intervention counterparts. The synergy of dietary adjustments and physical activity materialized as the optimal strategy, boasting a 41% risk reduction. This revelation encapsulates the dynamic interplay of nutrition and movement in diabetes prevention.

Medication as a Contender: A Parallel Perspective

Parallelly, the 21 medication trials provided intriguing insights. Over an average treatment duration of 3.1 years, medication recipients exhibited a commendable 36% lower risk of diabetes diagnosis in contrast to individuals randomized to control groups. This underscores the potential of pharmaceutical interventions to complement lifestyle modifications.

Sustaining Success: Long-term Implications

Beyond immediate interventions lies the critical question of sustainability. When formal lifestyle treatment was paused, patients who had embraced lifestyle modifications enjoyed a sustained 28% reduction in diabetes risk after a mean follow-up of 7.2 years. In stark contrast, individuals who underwent medication-induced washout exhibited no discernible reduction in diabetes risk post a mean 17-week follow-up. This underscored the long-term efficacy of lifestyle modifications in sustaining risk reduction.

Harnessing the Power of Prevention

The crux of the matter lies in the realization that a significant portion of the population hovers on the edge of diabetes due to incremental body fat and creeping blood sugar levels. The toll exacted by diabetes is immense – a shortened lifespan, heightened risk of debilitating complications including amputations, blindness, and the need for frequent dialysis. The perils extend to increased vulnerability to heart attacks, peripheral neuropathy, foot pain, and open foot wounds. It’s a burden too heavy to bear.

A Simple Solution: The Mathematics of Change

In the realm of diabetes prevention, simplicity is key. The arithmetic is straightforward – a mere reduction of 100 calories in daily intake coupled with an extra 100 calories burned through a brisk 10-12-minute walk can translate into the loss of 24 pounds of body fat in one year. This equation holds true for everyone, irrespective of their metabolism. Thus, for those perched on the cusp of diabetes, the promise of transformation lies in simple nutritional tweaks and increased physical activity. These seemingly modest adjustments possess the power to reverse major risk factors – from blood glucose levels and waist circumference to triglycerides, blood pressure, and HDL-cholesterol.

A Call to Action

The studies showcased within these findings ring loud and clear: individuals possess the authority to curb the ascent of diabetes and its life-altering complications. Empowerment lies in lifestyle modifications, a realm where the fusion of dietary choices and movement leads the charge.


The chronicle of diabetes and pre-diabetes in Canada encapsulates a significant health challenge. Yet, within this challenge resides the potential for transformation. The insights gleaned from the JAMA Internal Medicine study etch a path forward, one guided by lifestyle modifications, weight loss, and sustained commitment. The rallying cry is clear – harness the power of prevention and seize control over the trajectory of your health.


Haw SJ, Glalaviz KI, Straus AN. Long-term sustainability of diabetes prevention approaches. A systematic review and meta-analysis of randomized clinical trials. JAMA – Internal Medicine (November 6, 2017).

Eat Smart, Live Well, Look Great,

Dr. Meschino

Dr. James Meschino


Dr. James Meschino, DC, MS, ROHP, is an educator, author, and researcher having lectured to thousands of healthcare professionals across North America. He holds a Master’s Degree in Science with specialties in human nutrition and biology and is recognized as an expert in the field of nutrition, anti-aging, fitness, and wellness as well as the author of numerous books.

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