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Issue 95 Item 11 Aerobics are Key to Improving Insulin Sensitivity

23% increase in insulin sensitivity The extent to which lifestyle must be altered to improve insulin sensitivity has not been established. This study compares the effect on insulin sensitivity of current dietary and exercise recommendations with a more intensive intervention in normoglycemic insulin-resistant individuals.

Seventy-nine normoglycemic insulin-resistant (determined by the euglycemic insulin clamp) men and women were randomized to either a control group or one of two combined dietary and exercise programs. One group (modest level) was based on current recommendations and the other on a more intensive dietary and exercise program. Insulin sensitivity was measured using a euglycemic insulin clamp, body composition was measured using dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, and anthropometry and aerobic fitness were assessed before and after a 4-month intervention period. Four-day dietary intakes were recorded, and fasting glucose, insulin, and lipids were measured.

Only the intensive group showed a significant improvement in insulin sensitivity (23% increase, P=0.006 vs. 9% in the modest group, P=0.23). This was associated with a significant improvement in aerobic fitness (11% increase in the intensive group, P=0.02 vs. 1% in the modest group, P=0.94) and a greater fiber intake, but no difference in reported total or saturated dietary fat.

CONCLUSIONS— These data have important public health implications in countries with high rates of type 2 diabetes, and they have a bearing on intervention trials involving people with IGT. In those who have already developed IGT and are prescribed modest exercise as part of their program, it appears that a substantial number will still go on to develop type 2 diabetes. The greatest benefit of lifestyle intervention may be seen when instituted in insulin-resistant individuals who have not yet developed IGT and who have achieved an improved level of aerobic fitness.

Current clinical dietary and exercise recommendations, even when vigorously implemented, did not significantly improve insulin sensitivity; however, a more intensive program did. Improved aerobic fitness appeared to be the major difference between the two intervention groups, although weight loss and diet composition may have also played an important role in determining insulin sensitivity.

Diabetes Care 25:445-452, 2002