A healthy lifestyle reduces the risk of LADA and Type 2 diabetes

Findings from a recently published study in Diabetes Research and Clinical Practice show that a healthy lifestyle is associated with a 49% reduction in the risk to develop Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA). This study was based on data from the ESTRID study and found that the association between a healthy lifestyle and reduced diabetes risk was also seen in individuals with a family history of diabetes and a high genetic risk of developing diabetes.

Healthy lifestyle

By now it is widely accepted that adherence to a healthy lifestyle, including normal body weight (BMI within normal range (< 25 kg/m2)), moderate or high physical activity, a healthy diet, non-smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption may prevent up to 90% of cases with type 2 diabetes. Unhealthy lifestyle factors that are known to be linked to the development of type 2 diabetes have also been associated with Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), a hybrid from of diabetes. Some of these factors have been studied based on data from the ESTRID study previously, too, including overweight, a physical inactivity, aspects of an unhealthy diet, smoking, and alcohol consumption. Whether adherence to a healthy lifestyle can also prevent a large proportion of cases with LADA is not clear.

This recently published study investigated the risk of LADA in relation to the combination of several lifestyle factors and studied whether this risk reduction is similar in individuals with a family history of diabetes or a high genetic risk of developing diabetes. For this, 571 individuals with LADA, 1962 individuals with type 2 diabetes, and a large number of people without diabetes were investigated.

The analyses showed that adherence to a healthy lifestyle was associated with a 49% reduction in the risk of LADA and almost half of all patients who developed LADA could be attributed to an unhealthy lifestyle. The benefits of the healthy lifestyle, including moderate-to-high physical activity, a healthy diet, BMI < 25, non-smoking, and moderate alcohol consumption, were found in both men and women, as well as in individuals with family history of diabetes or a high genetic risk of developing diabetes.

“Out of the healthy lifestyle components, maintaining normal weight was associated with the largest risk reduction, but the combined healthy lifestyle resulted in a lower risk for LADA than any lifestyle component alone.”

Katharina Herzog, lead author of the study

Overall, the positive effect of a healthy lifestyle was more pronounced in type 2 diabetes when compared to LADA, but even a moderate lifestyle was associated with a reduced risk of both LADA and type 2 diabetes. Together, the findings in this study suggests that adopting a healthier lifestyle (by improving at least some of the lifestyle factors) could reduce the risk of diabetes and imply that also LADA may partly be preventable. These results emphasise the need for preventive programs promoting a healthy lifestyle to reduce the diabetes burden.

“We know that it is possible to prevent a large proportion of type 2 diabetes through lifestyle modification. The results of this study are promising since they suggest that also LADA may be prevented by the same healthy lifestyle behaviours.”

Katharina Herzog, lead author of the study

The research was based on a collaboration between researchers at Karolinska Institutet and the Lund University Diabetes Centre. Read the full article here:

Combined lifestyle factors and the risk of LADA and type 2 diabetes – Results from a Swedish population-based case-control study