A new systematic review entitled “Sex-specific differences in diabetes prevention: a systematic review and meta-analysis” reports that preventive measures for type 2 diabetes development are equally effective, independently of gender. The study was published in the journal Diabetologia.
Pre-diabetes is a term that refers to individuals with either impaired glucose tolerance (IGT) or impaired fasting glucose (IFG) or both. To prevent or delay the development of pre-diabetes to type 2 diabetes, several studies have suggested changes in diet and exercise or the use of drugs glucose-lowering drugs.
In this new study, the authors aimed to determine if these preventive strategies resulted in different outcomes for the onset of type 2 diabetes differed between men and women. They performed a retrospective analysis of studies published between 1980 and 2013. They found that both men and women who engaged in preventive measures to avoid the disease exhibited a 40% decrease in the risk to develop type 2 diabetes with one year of therapy, and a 37% decrease after 3 years. Additionally, preventive life-style changes resulted in weight loss and reduced glucose levels in both genders.
The team of researchers commented, “Clinically, these findings highlight an important issue. Despite differences in age of onset, detection and burden of type 2 diabetes between men and women, the effectiveness of preventive interventions in people with pre-diabetes is not influenced by gender. Consequently, clinicians and prevention managers can focus on factors that are known to determine the magnitude of beneficial effects, such as adherence. Clinicians also need to focus on other aspects of sex-disparities such as the higher incidence of type 2 diabetes in middle-aged men and gaps in the quality of care between diabetic men and women. Recent cost-effectiveness analyses indicate that lifestyle interventions are the most cost-effective approach. In people with pre-diabetes who are not able to adhere to lifestyle changes, initiation of metformin is probably the next-best option, but thus far, no trial evidence confirms this for non-responders to lifestyle interventions.”
Tailoring therapies for patients based on gender is an increasing trend in medicine, as researchers continue to better understand how gender, race, and other innate characteristics affect diseases. However, in this case, where lifestyle factors play an equal role in helping to prevent a disease such as diabetes, physicians may have an easier time of persuading patents to make lifestyle changes in certain settings, such as married couples, where both husband and wife can adopt the same diet and fitness routine and benefit equally.