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Lifestyle strategies for weight control: experience from the Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  07 March 2007

Jaana Lindström*
National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, Diabetes & Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Mannerheimintie 166, 00300 Helsinki, Finland
Markku Peltonen
National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, Diabetes & Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Mannerheimintie 166, 00300 Helsinki, Finland
Jaakko Tuomilehto
National Public Health Institute, Department of Epidemiology & Health Promotion, Diabetes & Genetic Epidemiology Unit, Mannerheimintie 166, 00300 Helsinki, Finland
*Corresponding author: Professor Jaana Lindström, fax +358 9 4744 8934, email
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Currently, in many European countries more than half the adult population is overweight; it hass become ‘abnormal’ to be of ‘normal weight’. The risk of type 2 diabetes, CVD, hypertension and certain forms of cancer increase with increasing weight. Biological evolution has produced body-fat-regulating mechanisms that are more powerful in protecting against weight loss than against weight gain. The current environment offers constant availability of affordable palatable energy-rich foods, with no need to consume the energy through physical activity. The ‘obesogenic’ environment is to some extent a political issue, but it has been shown that the healthcare system can also have a role in preventing obesity-related morbidity. The Finnish Diabetes Prevention Study was the first controlled randomised study to show that individualised lifestyle counselling of individuals with high risk of developing type 2 diabetes can influence diet, physical activity and body weight, and that type 2 diabetes can be prevented, or at least postponed. Most importantly, lifestyle changes do not have to be extreme. If the population would adopt a lifestyle in line with the official nutrition recommendations, the obesity and diabetes trend could at least be stabilised.

Symposium on ‘Biology of obesity’
Copyright © The Nutrition Society 2005


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