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Prevention of type 2 diabetes

BMJ 2001; 323 doi: (Published 14 July 2001) Cite this as: BMJ 2001;323:63

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New study from Finland shows that lifestyle changes can be made to work

  1. K M Venkat Narayan (, chief, diabetes epidemiology section,
  2. Barbara A Bowman, epidemiologist,
  3. Michael E Engelgau, chief, epidemiology and statistics branch
  1. Division of Diabetes Translation, National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Mailstop K-68, 4770 Buford Highway NE, Atlanta, GA 30341, USA

    Almost three decades ago the Finnish led the way for prevention of coronary heart disease by successfully implementing the community based North Karelia project.1 With the recent publication of their randomised controlled clinical trial of prevention of type 2 diabetes, Tuomilehto et al have now shown that effective lifestyle changes can prevent another major chronic disease of our time. 2 3

    Type 2 diabetes has long been linked with behavioural and environmental factors such as overweight, physical inactivity, and dietary habits.4 The findings from the Finnish trial confirm this link. Major lifestyle changes resulting from industrialisation are contributing to a rapid rise in diabetes worldwide, but especially in industrialising countries. An estimated 135 million people worldwide had diagnosed diabetes in 1995, and this number is expected to rise to at least 300 million by 2025.4 Between 1995 and 2025 the number of people with diabetes will increase by 42% (from 51 to 72 million) in industrialised countries and by 170% (from 84 to 228 million) in industrialising countries.

    Diabetes exerts a huge …

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