Background: Type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) is a significant global public health problem affecting more than 285 million people worldwide. Over 70% of those with T2DM live in developing countries, and this proportion is increasing annually. Evidence suggests that lifestyle and other nonpharmacological interventions can delay and even prevent the development of T2DM and its complications; however, to date, programs that have been specifically adapted to the needs and circumstances of developing countries have not been well developed or evaluated.
Purpose: The purpose of this article is to review published studies that evaluate lifestyle and other non-pharmacological interventions aimed at preventing T2DM and its complications in developing countries.
Methods: We undertook an electronic search of MEDLINE, PubMed, and EMBASE with the English language restriction and published until 30 September 2009.
Results: Nine relevant publications from seven studies were identified. The reported interventions predominantly used counseling and educational methods to improve diet and physical activity levels. Each intervention was found to be effective in reducing the risk of developing T2DM in people with impaired glucose tolerance, and improving glycemic control in people with T2DM.
Conclusions: The current evidence concerning the prevention of T2DM and its complications in developing countries has shown reasonably consistent and positive results; however, the small number of studies creates some significant limitations. More research is needed to evaluate the benefits of low-cost screening tools, as well as the efficacy, cost-effectiveness, and sustainability of culturally appropriate interventions in such countries.