man holding granddaughter
Leroy Piiohia, study participant, with his graddaughter

Increasing physical activity has effectively prevented (or delayed) the development of Type 2 diabetes in the 16 years since the beginning of the Hawaiʻi Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study.

The successful interventions in the study included people who changed their lifestyles to reduce weight and increase physical activity (the intensive lifestyle group) and the group that took the diabetes drug Metformin (the Metformin Lifestyle group). The Hawaiʻi findings were presented at a July 28 news conference by the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa’s John A. Burns School of Medicine.

There was a 27 percent reduced risk of diabetes in the intensive lifestyle group; and a 17 percent reduced risk of diabetes in the Metformin group. After 16 years, participants in the intensive lifestyle group and Metformin Lifestyle group have lower weights on average compared with a placebo group.

The intensive lifestyle group has experienced weight regain, but overall, they are still lighter than when they began—in fact, 60 percent of that group remains below their Diabetes Prevention Program start weight.

The John A. Burns School of Medicine was one of 27 clinical centers across the U.S. participating in this trial. There were 72 participants enrolled in the original group. The Hawaiʻi site contributed a number of at-risk ethnic groups—including Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders and Asians—important to better represent the nation’s population.

“The results in Hawaiʻi and elsewhere across the country provide real hope that acting early and preventing diabetes can have lasting effects,” said Richard Arakaki, an expert in diabetes and endocrinology and principle investigator leading the Hawaiʻi trial.

Read the John A. Burns School of Medicine story for more about study, including several success stories.

Hear from some of the particpants