High physical activity reduces the risk of LADA and type 2 diabetes

Exercising for 30 minutes three times per week is associated with a 40% reduced risk of Latent autoimmune diabetes in adults (LADA), but only in individuals without a high genetic risk of developing diabetes. High physical activity is also associated with a 50% reduced risk of type 2 diabetes, regardless of genetic susceptibility. These findings were recently published in The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism and are based on data from the ESTRID study and the Norwegian HUNT study.

Foto: Daniel Reche

Earlier research shows that high physical activity reduces the risk of type 2 diabetes. This study investigated whether the risk of LADA may also be reduced by engaging in physical activity. Since it is known that genes play a role in the development of diabetes, participants were divided into groups based on whether they had a high or a low genetic risk for LADA. All together 621 individuals with LADA, 3596 individuals with type 2 diabetes and an even larger number of people without diabetes were investigated.

The analyses showed that individuals who are physically active are less likely to develop LADA, but such a positive effect did not seem to apply to those with a genetically high risk. For type 2 diabetes, high physical activity was associated with a 50% reduced risk, irrespective of genetic susceptibility. The association between physical activity and diabetes could not be explained by the fact that people who excersise tend to be leaner than those who do not, which suggests that other mechanisms may also be involved. This fits with previous research indicating that physical activity may increase insulin sensitivity.

“The results are important because they suggest that being physically active can reduce the risk of both type 2 diabetes and LADA, even though phycial activity may not be enough to prevent LADA in those with strong genetic susceptibility.“

Rebecka Hjort, researcher at the Karolinska Institutet

Previous findings based on the ESTRID-study show that overweight and obesity are associated with increased risk of LADA.

“We know that being active and maintaining a healthy weight has a number of major health benefits. Our results suggest that the long list of conditions that may, at least in part, be prevented through a healthy lifestyle, also includes autoimmune diabetes with adult onset.”

Rebecka Hjort

The research is a collaboration between researchers at Karolinska Institutet, Lund, Uppsala and Helsinki University,  and the Norwegian University of Science and Technology. Read the full article here:

Physical activity, genetic susceptibility and the risk of latent autoimmune diabetes in adults and type 2 diabetes.

Anna Persson