Do you wonder if you should take medication for prediabetes?
Lifestyle changes are the key factor for preventing type 2 diabetes. There is no better prediabetes treatment. Healthy eating, weight loss if necessary, physical activity, sleep and other lifestyle habits rein supreme for reversing prediabetes and preventing type 2 diabetes. Yet, there may also be a place for medications.
Though we often hear only about lifestyle changes, research proves that medications are helpful as well. The federally-funded Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) included more than 3,000 overweight people at risk for type 2 diabetes. Those who were enrolled in the intensive lifestyle change group – which involved weight loss and exercise – reduced their risk of developing type 2 diabetes by 58% during the 3-year study. And 15 years after the start of the study, the lifestyle interventions lowered the risk by 27%. That’s pretty darn impressive!
Another group in the DPP took the drug metformin, a common medication used to treat type 2 diabetes. Metformin is an insulin sensitizer. It helps your body use insulin more effectively. It also lowers blood sugar levels by decreasing the amount of glucose created and released by your liver.
Metformin wasn’t as effective as intensive lifestyle modification, but the results were still worth celebrating. In the three years of the DPP, metformin reduced the risk of developing diabetes by a beautiful 31%. And after 15 years, the drug reduced the risk by 17%. Lifestyle changes still has more to brag about, but metformin brought about impressive results too.
Unfortunately, the DPP didn’t have a group that combined intensive lifestyle changes with metformin. I have a feeling that the combination would be the most impressive, but we really don’t know.
Who should take medication as part of their prediabetes treatment?
Because of the stunning results of the DPP, other research studies, and my experience with clients, I recommend lifestyle changes for everyone! So, of course, check out Prediabetes: A Complete Guide. But some people may need another tool in the tool box. The American Diabetes Association suggests that metformin be part of the prediabetes treatment conversation with your healthcare provider if any of the following describe you.
- You are quite overweight
- You are younger than 60 years
- You previously had gestational diabetes
- Your A1C (a measure of average blood sugar levels for about 3 months) is > 6%.
The bottom line is that lifestyle change kicks butt when it comes to prediabetes treatment and type 2 diabetes prevention. But medication is at least worth discussing if you’re having trouble keeping your blood sugar levels down.
What strategies are you using to manage prediabetes? I’d really like to know.