Australian researchers have examined three options for beating obesity and discovered they could prevent about 220 000 cases of type 2 diabetes nationwide by 2025.
The team from the Baker IDI Heart and Diabetes Institute identified a high-risk prevention strategy to begin tackling the obesity epidemic and rise in the number of type 2 diabetes.
Over 11 per cent, or just over two million people, will have diabetes in Australia by 2025, if current trends continue, the researchers found.
They modelled future diabetes cases that could be averted using one of three strategies, the ‘junk food tax,’ counselling and gastric banding.
The junk food tax – or fat tax – as well as a tax on sugary drinks have all been suggested in the last six months as possible ways to curb obesity rates.
A nation-wide tax on unhealthy foods could lead to body mass index decreasing by around 0.5kg/m2.
Preventing diabetes in those at high risk of developing diabetes would include behavioural modification programs, which would include six counselling sessions to monitor a reduction of fat and saturated fat in the diet, an increase in fibre, participation in at least four hours of moderate physical activity per week, culminating in weight loss of more than five per cent over 8-12 months.
This strategy was found to be the most effective, averting 220,000 of diabetes cases by 2025, which equates to a 10 per cent reduction, meaning 10 per cent of the population would be sufferers, down from 11.4 per cent.
The third strategy, for those who are already morbidly obese and therefore at the highest risk of developing type 2 diabetes.
Gastric banding of those in the morbidly obese category who had newly diagnosed diabetes would see a 73 remission rate of type 2 diabetes, according to the study.
The surgically induced weight loss interventions prevented about 65 000 cases of diabetes in 2025 respectively. Combining the three interventions would avert around 253,000 cases.
On of the lead researchers, Dr Kathryn Backholer, said preventing the prevalence of diabetes would be more financially viable than continuing current treatments.
“Given the costly complications associated with diabetes, reducing the burden of diabetes by even 10 per cent is likely to have a profound influence on Australia’s health care system,” she said.
“The costs of managing diabetes are likely to increase over time as the population ages and people with diabetes are receiving better treatment and thus living longer.”
“We need to focus preventive efforts towards intensive lifestyle intervention programs to ensure the best success of reducing the future burden of diabetes.”
The findings will be presented today at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Obesity in Lyon, France.