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Lifestyle Changes can be Promoted Via a Large-Scale Health Care System

Update Date: Jun 26, 2013 03:13 PM EDT

The subject of whether or not a national health care system would work in encouraging lifestyle changes was recently addressed in a study. According to researchers from Atlanta Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Center and Emory University, starting a lifestyle change program on a national level could be effective in preventing diseases, such as type two diabetes. The researchers looked at data from the VA's national weight management program, Managing Obesity and Overweight in Veterans Everywhere (MOVE!), the largest lifestyle change program currently in existence in the United States.

MOVE! was created in 2005 and has enrolled over 400,000 veterans at its 130 VA hospitals and clinics. This program helps veterans by providing them with regular group intervention sessions as well as providing them with education on nutrition and physical activity. The program does vary from location to location. Of the veterans enrolled, 88 percent are men. Two-thirds are white, 22 percent is black and 10 percent is other or unknown. Nearly half of the sample is married and the average age is 57.

Based from these statistics, the researchers found that around 130,000 participants experienced moderate weight loss within three years of follow up. These veterans also maintained their weight loss of 1.3 percent better within the three years. The team found that for every pound that participants lost, it translated to lowering the risk of diabetes by one percent. Weight loss in general and maintaining the weight loss led to a 14 percent lowered risk of diabetes.

The researchers found that active participants who took a more sustained and intensive route in the program had even more weight loss recording 2.7 percent loss of body weight. Active participants were involved in at least eight sessions within six months. The time between their first session and their last was over 129 days.  

The researchers also found that type two diabetes played a factor in active participation as well. 38 percent veterans who were already diagnosed with diabetes took the more intense participation route.

These findings were presented at the American Diabetes Association's 73rd Scientific Sessions

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