There are 5 choices that make a difference, according to this report by the Cardiovascular Health Study group.

First, the details.

  • 4883 adults 65 years or older were monitored for 10 years.
  • Their lifestyle choices later in life were compared to their risk of diabetes mellitus.
  • Low-risk lifestyle included the following factors
    • Physical activity
      • Higher than the median: exercise more than half of the people in your age group
      • Leisure-time activity and walking pace
    • Dietary score
      • Higher fiber intake
      • Higher polyunsaturated to saturated fat ratio
      • Lower trans-fat intake
      • Lower glycemic index: ranking food by the speed it’s converted from carbohydrates to sugar
    • Smoking
      • Never smoked
      • Former smoker more than 20 years ago or for fewer than 5 pack-years
    • Alcohol use
    • Obesity
      • Body mass index (BMI) less than 25
      • Waist circumference: 88 cm (34.6 inches) for women, 92 cm (36.2 inches) for men
  • Diabetes was defined as the new use of insulin or oral hypoglycemic drugs.

And, the results.

  • 337 people were diagnosed with diabetes requiring drug treatment.
  • Each lifestyle factor was independently associated with a higher risk of diabetes
  • People cut their risk of diabetes by half when they were physically active and had good dietary habits.
  • Adding no smoking, and healthy alcohol habits lowered this risk 82%.
  • The absence of obesity (healthy waist circumference and BMI) lowered this risk another 7%.

The bottom line?
When elderly people follow healthy lifestyle choices as defined in this study, they could lower the risk of being diagnosed with diabetes by about 90%.

Here are the 5 life choices for older people that will increase or decrease their risk for diabetes later in life.

  • Physical activity
  • Diet
  • Smoking
  • Alcohol use
  • Obesity

And, there’s no need to take drugs or CAM to achieve the benefits.

4/28/09 09:44 JR

Hi, I’m JR

John Russo, Jr., PharmD, is president of The MedCom Resource, Inc. Previously, he was senior vice president of medical communications at, a complementary and alternative medicine website.