Plain language summary
With Type 2 Diabetes growing globally this paper analyses whether T2D is preventable with lifestyle measures including diet. Seven RCTs were included for review with a total of 4090 participants, and 2466 incidents of T2D, and were chosen on the basis that the lifestyle interventions included both physical exercise and diet (typically Mediterranean Diet). They found that diet and lifestyle intervention reduced the risk of T2D by 47%. Sustained risk reduction was also found in follow-up studies up to 10 years later with participants maintaining improved blood glucose control. Lifestyle interventions may also reduce risk factors for cardiovascular disease. Weight reduction was considered a cornerstone of preventing T2D and adherence to lifestyle changes a key element in long term prevention. Dietary foods reviewed include processed meats, white rice and sugars which correlated highly with T2D whilst leafy greens, berries, wholegrains, legumes, dietary fibre and yoghurt correlate with a lower risk of T2D. Dietary patterns of skipping breakfast and snacking correlate higher with T2D. Different criteria for evaluating physical activity estimate that it reduces risk factors by 50%. In conclusion there is high evidence that lifestyle factors which optimise diet, increase physical activity and promote weight reduction are preventative factors for T2D and can be sustained long term.