Having a long-term commitment for participants in primary healthcare interventions could be beneficial for the reduction of diabetes risk and improvement of anthropometrics as shown at the 60 months follow-up, according to a study by researchers from NTNU and St Olav's Hospital Centre of Obesity who followed people in the risk group for five years. The findings were reported in the paper, ‘Preventing type 2 diabetes, overweight and obesity in the Norwegian primary healthcare: a longitudinal design with 60 months follow-up results and a cross-sectional design with comparison of dropouts versus completers’, published in BMJ Open.
"We're seeing that follow-up from the health services in Norwegian municipalities over a long period of time can help reduce the risk of developing diabetes 2 and improve people's health," explained Ingrid Sørdal Følling, a researcher at NTNU's Department of Health and Nursing. Følling works in the Centre for Obesity Research, Surgical Clinic at St Olavs Hospital in Trondheim.
All participants in the study had a BMI>25. The study started with 189 people, and about 70% completed the programme.
"The highest risk group at the start included 65 people. Of this group, more than 40%, or 27 people, reduced their risk to medium during the five years," says Følling.
Nine people already had symptoms of type 2 diabetes when they started, and six of them reduced their symptoms.
Previous research has shown that simple lifestyle advice from people in the health care system does not reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes. However, the participants in this study were offered physical activity and dietary courses for one year, and were followed up with measurements over a long period, in the case of this study for a full five years. Having a long-term commitment appears to yield much better results.
Fifty-four of the participants dropped out during the five years, corresponding to just over 30%. Many of the youngest participants and those with the highest BMI, waist circumference and weight measurement were among the dropouts.
The researchers do not know exactly why these individuals chose not to carry on. There may be socio-economic reasons, since the people who did not participate for the length of the project had less education and fewer were employed. Another possible explanation is that the training and courses were scheduled during the day, which might have made it more difficult for younger people to participate.
Previous experience shows that people who most need the offerings to change their habits are more often the ones who do not take them up, or who quit the programme.
To access this paper, please click here