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09/07/2009 - News

Mediterranean Diet May Delay Need for Diabetes Treatment

By: June Chen, MD


Low-carbohydrate and low-fat calorie-restricted diets are recommended as weight loss tools in overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes. But, is there an optimum diet for diabetics? According to a new study published in the September 1, 2009 issue of Annals of Internal Medicine, a Mediterranean-style diet may be better than a low-fat diet for delaying the need for medications to control blood sugar among overweight people who are newly-diagnosed with diabetes.

Researchers from the Second University of Naples in Italy and their colleagues studied 251 overweight people with newly-diagnosed type 2 diabetes in order to compare the effects of a low-fat diet or a low-carbohydrate Mediterranean-style diet on the need for antihyperglycemic drug therapy. Study participants had never been treated with diabetes medications and had relatively well-controlled blood sugars. After a follow-up period of 4 years, 44% of the diabetes patients in the Mediterranean-style diet group and 70% of the diabetics in the low-fat diet group required diabetes treatment. Those in the Mediterranean-style diet group also lost more weight and experienced greater improvement in some measures of blood sugar control and heart disease risk.
It is not known how a Mediterranean-style diet affects blood sugar control or heart disease risk in patients with longstanding diabetes. However, based on this study, it seems that patients with newly-diagnosed diabetes may benefit from a low-carbohydrate, Mediterranean-style diet that emphasizes vegetables, fresh fruit, olive oil, dairy products, low to moderate amounts of poultry, and limited amounts of red meat.


Ann Intern Med. 2009;151:306-314.

Created on: 09/07/2009
Reviewed on: 09/07/2009

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