Physical exercise reduces the risk of developing



Exercising more lowers the risk of diabetes and could see seven million fewer diabetic patients in mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan, according to a new study.

Researchers have found that higher levels of recreational physical activity (APLT), such as walking, jogging, or running, are linked to a lower risk of diabetes in people at high risk.

And they’ve also seen health benefits of low-intensity physical activity, which allows older people to take steps to improve their health and reduce the risk of diabetes.

The research team, led by experts from the University of Birmingham, recommends swift action by health leaders to promote physical activity as a way to reduce diabetes and tackle the growing epidemic obesity in China.

Over an 18-year period, researchers studied the lifestyles of 44,828 Chinese adults, aged 20 to 80, who had recently been diagnosed with impaired fasting blood sugar (IFG) – an early warning signal for type 2 diabetes affecting one in four Chinese adults.

Professor Neil Thomas, Institute of Applied Health Research, University of Birmingham, commented: “We have found that higher levels of LTPA are associated with a lower risk of diabetes in a large population of adults. Chinese with IFG.

“About a fifth of observed diabetes cases that developed could have been prevented if inactive people had engaged in the exercise levels recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO).

“In the approximately 370 million Chinese adults with IFG, an increase in LTPA from one category – say, from low to moderate – would correspond to a potential reduction of at least seven million cases of diabetes. It could also offset rapid increases in diabetes resulting from an aging population and the ongoing obesity epidemic in China.

“However, more than three-quarters of Chinese adults do not get enough physical activity to reap such health benefits. Our findings underscore the urgent need to promote physical activity as a diabetes prevention strategy.”

The research team included experts from the Chinese University of Hong Kong, Academia Sinica, Taipei, Taiwan, and the MJ Health Research Foundation, Taipei, Taiwan. Their findings were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

The researchers studied a Chinese-born IFG population in Taiwan, following their health status from 1996 to 2014. Compared to inactive participants, the risk of diabetes in people reporting low, moderate and high LTPA volume was reduced by 12%, 20% and 25% respectively after adjusting for physical labor at work and other factors.

The researchers found that 19.2% of diabetes cases could have been prevented if inactive participants had committed to the WHO recommendation levels of LTPA.

Estimates suggest that there are around 112 million diabetic patients in the Greater China region (mainland China, Hong Kong and Taiwan) accounting for 40-60% of premature deaths before the age of 60 and at least 51 billion. of US dollars of economic burden.

The gradual deterioration in glucose metabolism occurs many years before the clinical diagnosis of type 2 diabetes, in which IFG is an early detectable pathological change.

People with IFG make up a significant proportion of the Chinese population, with 25% of Chinese adults meeting the definition of IFG from the American Diabetes Association (ADA).

Each year, 6-9% of people with IFG progress to diabetes, and compared to people with normal blood sugar, these patients have a higher risk of death from chronic vascular and kidney disease.


For more information, please contact Tony Moran, Head of International Communications, University of Birmingham at 44-0-121-414-8254 or 44-0-782-783-2312. For out of hours inquiries, please call 44-0-7789-921-165.

Notes to Editors

  • The University of Birmingham is ranked among the top 100 institutions in the world, its work brings people from all over the world to Birmingham, including researchers and teachers and over 4,000 international students from almost 150 countries.
  • The article “Increased leisure-time physical activity associated with lower onset of diabetes in 44,828 adults with impaired fasting blood sugar: a prospective population-based cohort study” is published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
  • It can be read on: (DOI: 10.1136 / bjsports-2017-098199)

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