SCIENCE REPORT- Delaying Diabetes

By Nancy Steinbach

This is the VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT.

Medical researchers say people can make changes in their lives that can delay the development of the disease diabetes.

About one-hundred-thirty-five-million people around the world have diabetes. They have high levels of the sugar called glucose in their blood. Glucose levels increase when the body lacks or cannot use the hormone insulin. This results in diabetes. The disease damages blood vessels. It injures the kidneys, eyes and nerves. It stops blood flow to the feet and legs. And it increases the chances of heart disease and strokes.

There are two kinds of diabetes. Type One develops in children or young adults. Type Two develops in older adults. The new study involved Type Two diabetes.

Medical researchers say more people are developing Type Two diabetes because of a lack of physical activity and an increase in weight. Researchers at the Diabetes Prevention Study Group in Finland wanted to see if changes in peoples' lives could affect their development of the disease.

Their study involved more than five-hundred men and women in Finland. Their average age was fifty-five. The people already had some changes in their blood glucose levels. They had a higher than normal chance of developing diabetes. About half the people met with a medical expert who helped them eat healthier foods and increase their physical activity. The other half received only general information about such changes.

The researchers tested the people each year for diabetes. They reported their results in the New England Journal of Medicine. After four years, tests found diabetes in eleven percent of the people who lost weight and exercised. Twenty-three percent of the people in the other group developed the disease. The researchers said the risk of developing diabetes was fifty-eight percent lower in the group that made changes in their lives.

Experts say more work needs to be done to confirm such findings. An American study is being done now. It will try to find out if the chance of developing Type Two diabetes can be reduced through food and exercise changes or by taking a medicine. The results are expected next year.

This VOA Special English SCIENCE REPORT was written by Nancy Steinbach.

Voice of America Special English