Effect of an Intensive Lifestyle Intervention on Glycemic Control in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA. 2017 Aug 15;318(7):637-646. doi: 10.1001/jama.2017.10169.


Importance: It is unclear whether a lifestyle intervention can maintain glycemic control in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Objective: To test whether an intensive lifestyle intervention results in equivalent glycemic control compared with standard care and, secondarily, leads to a reduction in glucose-lowering medication in participants with type 2 diabetes.

Design, setting, and participants: Randomized, assessor-blinded, single-center study within Region Zealand and the Capital Region of Denmark (April 2015-August 2016). Ninety-eight adult participants with non-insulin-dependent type 2 diabetes who were diagnosed for less than 10 years were included. Participants were randomly assigned (2:1; stratified by sex) to the lifestyle group (n = 64) or the standard care group (n = 34).

Interventions: All participants received standard care with individual counseling and standardized, blinded, target-driven medical therapy. Additionally, the lifestyle intervention included 5 to 6 weekly aerobic training sessions (duration 30-60 minutes), of which 2 to 3 sessions were combined with resistance training. The lifestyle participants received dietary plans aiming for a body mass index of 25 or less. Participants were followed up for 12 months.

Main outcomes and measures: Primary outcome was change in hemoglobin A1c (HbA1c) from baseline to 12-month follow-up, and equivalence was prespecified by a CI margin of ±0.4% based on the intention-to-treat population. Superiority analysis was performed on the secondary outcome reductions in glucose-lowering medication.

Results: Among 98 randomized participants (mean age, 54.6 years [SD, 8.9]; women, 47 [48%]; mean baseline HbA1c, 6.7%), 93 participants completed the trial. From baseline to 12-month follow-up, the mean HbA1c level changed from 6.65% to 6.34% in the lifestyle group and from 6.74% to 6.66% in the standard care group (mean between-group difference in change of -0.26% [95% CI, -0.52% to -0.01%]), not meeting the criteria for equivalence (P = .15). Reduction in glucose-lowering medications occurred in 47 participants (73.5%) in the lifestyle group and 9 participants (26.4%) in the standard care group (difference, 47.1 percentage points [95% CI, 28.6-65.3]). There were 32 adverse events (most commonly musculoskeletal pain or discomfort and mild hypoglycemia) in the lifestyle group and 5 in the standard care group.

Conclusions and relevance: Among adults with type 2 diabetes diagnosed for less than 10 years, a lifestyle intervention compared with standard care resulted in a change in glycemic control that did not reach the criterion for equivalence, but was in a direction consistent with benefit. Further research is needed to assess superiority, as well as generalizability and durability of findings.

Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT02417012.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Randomized Controlled Trial

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Caloric Restriction*
  • Counseling
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / drug therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Exercise*
  • Female
  • Glycated Hemoglobin / analysis
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / administration & dosage*
  • Intention to Treat Analysis
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Single-Blind Method
  • Weight Loss


  • Glycated Hemoglobin A
  • Hypoglycemic Agents

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02417012
  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT02417012