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Lifestyle interventions can help reduce the risk of developing type 2 diabetes, but few studies have explored how different ethnic groups are impacted.

It’s known that the risk of type 2 diabetes varies by ethnicity. For instance, the prevalence of diagnosed diabetes is 7.5% in White Americans but 14.7% in American Indians/Alaska Natives. However, little is known about the response to diabetes prevention interventions among ethnic groups.

A study published in the journal Obesity Reviews assessed ethnic differences in the effects of lifestyle interventions on type 2 diabetes incidence, glycemic outcomes, anthropometric measures, and lifestyle behaviors. A systemic review and meta-analysis were completed in accordance with PRISMA. The review included 45 studies that enrolled a total of 18,789 participants across 14 countries, with the majority being female.

Researchers found that lifestyle interventions resulted in a much lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes. They also found a significant reduction in fasting glucose, 2-h glucose, and HBA1c compared to the control group. Ethnic differences were noted for 2-h glucose, as only East and South Asian groups experienced significant improvement for these parameters. Lifestyle interventions also improved certain outcomes, but there were notable ethnic differences. For instance, in the African group there were no significant changes in body weight, BMI, or waist circumference.

The authors point out that a unique strength of their study was its comprehensive evaluation of the effects of lifestyle interventions in a wide range of ethnic groups. However, they note that the study was limited in that the description of ethnicity lacked consistency across the included studies. Overall, more studies are needed to assess how lifestyle interventions affect different ethnic groups with type 2 diabetes and to confirm the findings of this study.

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Chen, M., Moran, L. J., Harrison, C. L., Ukke, G. G., Sood, S., Bennett, C. J., . . . Lim, S. (2022). Ethnic differences in response to lifestyle intervention for the prevention of type 2 diabetes in adults: A systematic review and meta-analysis. Obes Rev, 23(1), e13340. https://doi.org/10.1111/obr.13340