New American research has found that following seven healthy lifestyle guidelines for preventing heart disease also appears to help prevent diabetes.

Led by Dr Joshua J. Joseph at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and College of Medicine in the United States, the new study looked at 7,758 participants with an average age of 63 and used the American Heart Association’s “Life’s Simple 7” health and lifestyle factors as a guide for measuring participants’ heart health.

The “Life’s Simple 7” includes getting enough physical activity, following a healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight, maintaining healthy cholesterol, blood pressure and blood glucose levels, and not smoking.

The findings, published in the journal Diabetologia, showed that overall, participants who were in the recommended, ideal ranges for at least four of the seven factors had an 80% lower risk of developing diabetes over the next 10 years, compared to those who followed none or just one of the “Life’s Simple 7” guidelines.

“What’s interesting is when we compared people who had normal blood glucose and those who already had impaired blood glucose,” said Dr Joseph.

“Those in normal levels who attained four or more guideline factors had an 80% lower risk of developing diabetes.

“Those who were already diabetic or prediabetic, and met four of the factors had no change in lowering their risk for diabetes.”

Dr Joseph said the findings show that using prevention strategies is key to helping people avoid diabetes, before problems with blood sugar begin.

“Healthy people need to work to stay healthy. Follow the guidelines. Don’t proceed to high blood sugar and then worry about stopping diabetes.

“By that point, people need high-intensity interventions that focus on physical activity and diet to promote weight loss, and possibly, medications to lower the risk of diabetes,” he said.

According to a 2017 report by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), nearly a third of the US population live with diabetes or prediabetes. – AFP Relaxnews

Editor’s note: According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2015, 17.7% of Malaysian adults have diabetes, 9.2% of whom did not know they had diabetes.