There is substantial evidence that type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) can be prevented in high-risk individuals by a lifestyle program of regular exercise and weight reduction. Additionally, there is emerging evidence that new onset T2DM (<1year) can go into remission after weight loss and exercise in a majority of motivated individuals, obviating a need for glucose lowering medications. Yet, lifestyle programs to support such behavior change are not widely available. Moreover, health care insurance companies generally do not provide coverage for behavioral weight loss programs to prevent or treat T2DM. Consequently, physicians caring for individuals with T2DM may find it much easier to start a chronic glucose lowering medication rather than attempting to motivate and support patients through long-term behavior change. The cardiac rehabilitation model of disease management, with a network of over 2000 programs in the U.S., is well suited to deliver medically-supervised lifestyle programs. National organizations such as the American Diabetes Association and the American Association of Cardiovascular and Pulmonary Rehabilitation should support greater availability and use of lifestyle programs for T2DM treatment and prevention.
Keywords: Exercise training; Prevention; Treatment; Type 2 diabetes mellitus; Weight loss.
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