22 November 2019
An active and healthy lifestyle, not medication, is the right prescription if you are a pre-diabetic. Photo: Bloomberg
An active and healthy lifestyle, not medication, is the right prescription if you are a pre-diabetic. Photo: Bloomberg

Pre-diabetic? Forget drugs, change your lifestyle!

Diabetes, as we all know, is the curse of the modern age. Stress, bad eating habits and lack of physical activity have taken a toll on hundreds of millions of people worldwide. 

What is worrying is that the disease, for which there is no real cure, is increasingly striking the 30-somethings.  

With risks growing, the only way one can be sure is to visit the doctor and have regular check-ups and tests.

If the tests show that you have pre-diabetes, which means that your blood sugar level is higher than normal but not yet high enough to be classified as Type 2 diabetes, what should you do? Start medication immediately? 

Well, not so fast, health experts now say.  

In fact, pre-diabetic diagnosis can sometimes prove counterproductive as doctors may prescribe medicines that will actually serve little purpose, the experts say, adding that at best the medicines will only briefly delay the onset of the illness.

In an article in the British Medical Journal, scientists have argued that the diagnosis is of little benefit and carries huge medical and social costs, the Guardian reported this week.

The only winners from classifying vast numbers of people with pre-diabetes are the pharmaceutical firms, said the experts from University College London and Mayo Clinic, Minnesota.

According to John Yudkin, emeritus professor of medicine at UCL, pre-diabetes “is an artificial category with virtually zero clinical relevance .… There is no proven benefit of giving diabetes treatment drugs to people in this category before they develop diabetes.”

The numbers labeled as pre-diabetic have been substantially boosted by a new definition adopted by the American Diabetes Association, he said, referring to the A1c test. An A1c reading of over 6.5% indicates type 2 diabetes, but the US association now deems anyone in the 5.7-6.4% range to be pre-diabetic.

The authors assert that what is needed is a public health strategy to tackle the problems in the food, health and educational environment which have led to widespread obesity and inactivity – the main causes of Type 2 diabetes.

So, what should you if you fall in the risk category?

The answer is obvious — change your lifestyle! Avoid stress, reduce weight and steer clear of junk food, as your mom always told you.

And for heaven’s sake, get off that couch and into your training gear.

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