A series of large-scale randomised controlled trials have demonstrated the effectiveness of lifestyle change in preventing type 2 diabetes in people with impaired glucose tolerance. Participants in these trials consumed a low-fat diet, lost a moderate amount of weight and/or increased their physical activity. Weight loss appears to be the primary driver of type 2 diabetes risk reduction, with individual dietary components playing a minor role. The effect of weight loss via other dietary approaches, such as low-carbohydrate diets, a Mediterranean dietary pattern, intermittent fasting or very-low-energy diets, on the incidence of type 2 diabetes has not been tested. These diets—as described here—could be equally, if not more effective in preventing type 2 diabetes than the tested low-fat diet, and if so, would increase choice for patients. There is also a need to understand the effect of foods and diets on beta-cell function, as the available evidence suggests moderate weight loss, as achieved in the diabetes prevention trials, improves insulin sensitivity but not beta-cell function. Finally, prediabetes is an umbrella term for different prediabetic states, each with distinct underlying pathophysiology. The limited data available question whether moderate weight loss is effective at preventing type 2 diabetes in each of the prediabetes subtypes.
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