Type 2 diabetes can be prevented or even reversed with simple lifestyle changes, according to Dr. Eberhard Standl, a diabetes expert and spokesman for the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).
Type 2 diabetes has grown in epidemic proportions, with 400 million diabetics and another 400 million pre-diabetics around the world. The chronic disease contributes to serious health concerns including heart disease, kidney disease, dementia, amputations due to neuropathy, some forms of cancer, and blindness.
The disease contributed to an estimated 5 million deaths in 2014 alone. Once known as adult-onset diabetes, type 2 diabetes now affects as many as 80,000 children around the world.
Many diabetics must rely on medication to control their blood sugar levels, but these drugs often come with serious risks. For example, Actos has been linked to an increased risk of bladder cancer, and newer drugs Byetta and Januvia have been associated with an increased risk of acute pancreatitis and pancreatic cancer.
Taking charge of one’s own health by adopting healthy lifestyles can greatly improve their long-term health, Standl said. “There is very good and strong evidence that people can stop diabetes with lifestyle changes.
“People hardly move during their working day and even during leisure time,” he said. To reverse or prevent type 2 diabetes, the goal is 30 minutes of decent physical exercise every day. This could be brisk walking, jogging, swimming or cycling and should be combined with muscle training.” Cutting calories can also help people maintain a healthy weight, which is key to overcoming type 2 diabetes, he said.