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Expert's diabetes lifestyle intervention success

July 13,2016 05:16

PROFESSIONAL and community-led lifestyle interventions could help to halt the march of diabetes, which already affects about two million people in South Africa. This is according to Bradley Fryer, a biokineticist at Stellenbosch University, who ...

PROFESSIONAL and community-led lifestyle interventions could help to halt the march of diabetes, which already affects about two million people in South Africa.
This is according to Bradley Fryer, a biokineticist at Stellenbosch University, who recently completed his doctorate in sport science, which focused on tackling the issue in poor communities.The International Diabetes Federation in Africa estimates that of 415 million people in the world who have diabetes, more than 14 million people are in Africa. Last year, there were 2.28 million cases of diabetes in South Africa.
Fryer conducted a 10-week lifestyle intervention in Cloetesville, Stellenbosch, where he educated people on the physiological, psychological and health-related outcomes in adults with Type 2 diabetes.
A total of 43 men and women between the ages of 33 and 80 completed the programme, which included 30 exercise sessions with a biokineticist, 10 motivational interviewing sessions with a community psychologist, and 10 dietary counselling sessions with a dietitian.
“Through our intervention, participants' dietary habits and lifestyle behaviour changed and were even maintained during the follow-up period. They used to consume a lot of sugar and refined carbohydrates, but started eating whole wheat bread instead of white.
"Their cardiovascular ability improved, body fat decreased and blood sugar levels and blood pressure dropped. They were able to increase their total walking distance during a six-minute walk test.”
Participant Lorna Africa, 69, said after the sixth week her doctor stopped her insulin injections. “The programme made a big difference in my life. It is amazing what the healthier food choices and a little exercise can do.”
Africa has continued her lifestyle and now hosts fitness classes in her community twice a week.
John Pieters, 71, thanked Fryer for his intervention. 
“I am very impressed with my health now.”
Fryer said to reduce the risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, people could:
l Reduce the consumption of refined foods and products with large amounts of added sugar, and increase the intake of vegetables.
l Aim to get at least 150 minutes a week of structured exercise at a moderate intensity, even if it is broken up into smaller bouts (eg 3x10-minute exercise sessions a day has comparable effects to a 1x30-minute exercise session).
He hoped to roll out the intervention to other areas in collaboration with other universities and corporates.
“Corporates could fund not just the programme, but also learners from the community who may want to study sport science and then become involved in the programme.
"In this way, they will be able to plough back into the community and gain valuable work experience.”

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