July 15, 2008 / 6:17 PM / in 10 years

Men may need to work harder to cut diabetes risk

NEW YORK (Reuters Health) - Losing weight through diet and exercise lowers diabetes risk in men and women, but men may have to work harder for the same benefit, new research suggests.

In a study of more than 1,100 adults at risk of type 2 diabetes, researchers found that those who went on an “intensive” regimen of calorie-cutting and exercise lowered their risk of developing diabetes over the next year.

However, despite the fact that men lost more weight and exercised more than women did, that did not translate into a greater reduction in diabetes risk, the researchers report in the journal Diabetes Care.

For the study, researchers led by Dr. Leigh Perreault at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center in Aurora randomly assigned participants to either an intensive program of lifestyle changes or standard lifestyle advice. Those in the former group were given the goal of losing 7 percent of their body weight by cutting calories and fat from their diet and exercising for at least 2.5 hours per week.

Overall, men and women in the intensive group were 58 percent less likely to develop diabetes over the next year.

In general, men exercised more and were more successful at losing weight — 47 percent reached the 7-percent goal, versus 37 percent of women. Weight loss translated into a reduction in triglycerides (a type of blood fat) and better blood-sugar control. Once again, men had greater decreases in these two factors as well.

However, men saw no more benefit than women did when it came to diabetes risk. The rates of return to normal glucose tolerance levels and the development of diabetes did not differ between men and women.

The reason, according to Perrault’s team, may have to do with the fact that men had more diabetes risk factors to begin with. They say that more studies are needed to understand whether and how various diabetes prevention tactics affect men and women differently.

SOURCE: Diabetes Care, July 2008.

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