Providing tips on lifestyle improvement to persons with Impaired Glucose Tolerance will have a generous effect on not only prevention of diabetes, but also on their long term health, a city-based study has shown.

The Diabetes – Community Lifestyle Improvement Programme (D-Clip), undertaken jointly by Madras Diabetes Research Foundation (MDRF) and Emory University (under the banner Global Diabetes Research Centre), aimed at studying the effects of a culture-specific, and low-cost lifestyle intervention programme for diabetes prevention in the country. A total of just under 20,000 persons in the overweight category were randomly screened, and 1,253 chosen for the study, as they were found to be pre-diabetic (impaired glucose tolerance and/or impaired fasting glucose.)

These people were then split into two groups – one the control group getting specific information and guidance on lifestyle interventions, and the other receiving standard care, V. Mohan of MDRF explained. Interventions included training on diet, and specific instructions on how to exercise (at least half an hour each day for five days a week), according to R.M. Anjana, vice president, MDRF.

The preliminary results of the study were encouraging, with 83 per cent of the group reporting weight loss (between 2.5 kg to over 6 kg), marked improvement in glucose control; improvements in cholesterol levels; and decrease in blood pressure.

Additionally, Dr. Mohan added, researchers in the study had also noted a difference in the causation of diabetes in the Indian population as compared to the West. Lisa Staimez, researcher, said they had noticed declining beta cell functions (that are responsible for insulin secretion) much before the person had walked into diabetes completely. This research is likely to lead to new ways of preventing diabetes in the specific ethnic group – is it possible to boost the function of those cells in time? Dr. Mohan added that the entire study is likely to be completed in a year's time, and the final results are expected to be ready by that time. Besides being chosen at random, this was one among the few studies that scientifically mapped the precise effects lifestyle interventions were having on the health of persons with IGT/IFG, he explained.

The Global Diabetes Research Centre was established in 2007 as a collaborative venture between MDRF, Rollins School of Public Health, Emory University, US. It was meant to serve as an inter-disciplinary, cross-cultural hub to undertake epidemiological and translational research projects related to diabetes prevention, management and control in South Asia. Emory's K.M. Venkat Narayan told presspersons on Tuesday that it was essential to find low-cost lifestyle approaches to prevention of disease as no country could afford to deliver health care to all, considering the increasing burden of non communicable diseases.

  • 1,253 chosen for the study

  • Essential to find low-cost lifestyle approaches