Change Your Life, Change Your Diabetes Risk: The Case For Lifestyle Modifications And Better Health Outcomes

Recent statistics have been released detailing the extent of the current diabetes epidemic in Victoria and have highlighted the need for prevention to limit the burden of the disease for individuals.  With 252,000 people in  Victorian currently diagnosed with diabetes, and a combined total 9,883 in the  Boroondara and Manningham city area, it is evident that intensive exercise and  lifestyle modifications are required for people who are  at high risk for diabetes, as well as for  those individuals who have already been diagnosed with diabetes.  Risk factors for diabetes include:

  • Being overweight
  • Leading an inactive lifestyle
  • Smoking and alcohol
  • Family history
  • Eating an unhealthy diet
  • Age

A recent study by Dr Rashida Dorsey and Dr Thomas Songer, of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP), examined the lifestyle behaviours of overweight people with pre-diabetes and diabetes.  Two previous studies highlighted the benefit of modifications in lifestyle behaviours, with weight loss shown to be highly effective in reducing the incidence of diabetes among people at high risk of developing diabetes.  For those with diabetes, it was demonstrated that weight loss was associated with improvements in diabetes control and reductions in cardiovascular disease risk factors.  This highlights the dual benefits of lifestyle modification in the prevention of diabetes and the delay of complications for people with diabetes.  The CDCP aimed to identify the prevalence of attempts at making lifestyle changes, and barriers to such changes, for overweight people with diabetes and pre-diabetes. 

Table 1. Prevalence of attempts at lifestyle modification through behaviour change, in men and women with pre-diabetes or diabetes.  Adapted from Dorsey & Songer, 2011.

Behaviour Pre- diabetes Diabetes


Men Women Men Women
Tried to control weight 78.5% 85.5% 69.5% 79.9%
Increased physical activity 54.8% 52.7% 54.8% 58.8%
Reduced the amount of fat or calories in diet 55.1% 66.1% 66.5% 74.8%

The research highlights that, despite much evidence detailing the many benefits of weight loss for diabetes prevention and control, many people with diabetes or pre-diabetes do not engage in behaviours conducive to such changes.  Furthermore, the study concluded that these at-risk populations do not receive enough advice or counselling regarding the most effective ways to achieve successful lifestyle modification.

Appropriate lifestyle modification programs aimed at empowering people to create change are required.  Exercise is a major factor in weight loss and effective diabetes prevention and management, in addition to education and support.  With rapid increases in diabetes prevalence in our community, it is important we act now.

At Inspire Fitness for Wellbeing, we have specifically designed a Diabetes Management and Prevention Program with this in mind: to provide those at risk of, and those who have Diabetes, with a tailored exercise program under the supervision of a qualified Exercise Physiologist, in a friendly and supportive environment.  Call us on 9857 3007 to find out more.

To determine your risk of Diabetes , download the AUDRISK tool from Diabetes Australia.

(Image source: Medical News Online)