Why Lifestyle Changes Are the Key to Diabetes Remission
When it comes to type 2 diabetes, prevention is always the best case scenario. After all, even patients with a prediabetes diagnosis have time to make lifestyle changes that can reduce blood sugar levels back to a normal range. Between eating a balanced diet, engaging in physical activity, and carefully monitoring blood sugar levels, studies show that prediabetic patients can decrease the risk of becoming diabetic for as long as ten years.
Yet despite healthcare providers and population health professionals working hard to help lower cases, more than a million Americans are diagnosed with type 2 diabetes each year.
So once prevention has failed, what can you do to help your population? For a long time, the answer has been just to help people manage it and the effects on their lives. After all, there’s no cure for diabetes.
But within the last five years, multiple studies, have confirmed that there’s a different path forward for people with diabetes: remission.
How Physical Activity and Nutrition Interventions Contribute to Remission
Now that we know type 2 diabetes remission is possible, the question is: how? By significantly lowering A1c levels to within a healthy range. And the answer to achieving that lies in intensive, sustained lifestyle habits that are built over time.
In two studies where lifestyle changes were the key method employed, results showed impressive remission rates.
- A UK trial program was able to accomplish a 46% remission rate among patients by:
- Withdrawing antidiabetes and antihypertensive drugs
- Promoting healthy food intake with a diet designed for diabetes patients
- Structured support for weight-loss maintenance, including physical activity
- A trial in Qatar achieved a 61% remission rate by employing intensive lifestyle interventions, including:
- Healthy nutrition guidance and diet replacement
- Physical activity support
- Structured lifestyle support
When delving into the methods and results of these studies, it becomes clear that significant lifestyle changes – guided by expert advice and tailored specifically for people with diabetes – are the primary driver of type 2 diabetes remission.
Dr. William Cefalu, Director of the Division of Diabetes, Endocrinology, and Metabolic Diseases at the NIDDK, confirms this and makes it clear that this is where population health professionals should focus their efforts: “While we have very effective medications to lower blood glucose levels, lifestyle interventions (nutrition and exercise) are a cornerstone.”
How Fitbit Can Help Your Population with the Management of Diabetes
Keeping blood sugar levels under control is the number one priority for people with diabetes, especially as they work towards the possibility of remission. When it comes to creating programs and interventions to support them, the Fitbit experience is a natural fit.
The lifestyle changes needed to reverse a diabetes diagnosis revolve around physical activity and nutrition – two of the foundational behaviors that the Fitbit experience is designed to support. Gone are the days of simple step tracking; now, Fitbit is a 24/7 health companion.
Studies have found that Fitbit-based interventions result in a statistically significant increase in movement, along with a significant decrease in weight. When it comes to nutrition, Fitbit users can track when and what they eat, which can help them make decisions with their diabetes in mind and better identify how certain foods impact how they’re feeling.
And users don’t have to do it all on their own, either – with Fitbit Premium users have access to video workouts for people of all abilities, mindful recipe inspiration complete with a diabetes-friendly search filter, and even guided programs like “Kick Your Sugar Habit,” which is particularly helpful to people with diabetes.
Not only does Fitbit track physical activity and offer nutrition support, it also has purpose-built features that aid in the management of diabetes. Users can log/import and track blood glucose levels in the Fitbit app to see all of their trends in one place, and they can also:
- Set personalized ranges so they know when they’re outside their target range
- Better identify important changes in their blood glucose
- Get friendly reminders to log
- Look at trends over time with easy-to-read graphs
And the data isn’t just helpful to them. It can also be shared with healthcare providers through an easy-to-download Wellness Report to help them better understand their patients and provide personalized guidance that keeps them on the path to remission.
Let’s Partner Up to Support Your Population
Armed with an understanding of how remission is achieved, you can implement programs and interventions uniquely tailored to those in your population that have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes – tracking nutrition, physical activity, and blood glucose levels to help them change the behaviors that will give them the best chance of remission.
Want to know more about how Fitbit can help you support your population? Let’s chat.