• non-insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus;
  • diet therapy;
  • exercise;
  • insulin;
  • body weight changes


Aims  The aims of this study were to assess whether, in Type 2 diabetic patients with inadequate glycaemic control on oral hypoglycaemic agents (OHA), a lifestyle intervention programme based on exercise and diet counselling (i) was as effective as insulin treatment in controlling blood glucose, and (ii) could prevent the weight gain usually accompanying the introduction of insulin treatment.

Methods  Thirty-eight Type 2 diabetic subjects treated with OHA, HbA1c 8–10.5% and body mass index (BMI) 26–40 kg/m2, were randomized to the following treatments: (i) lifestyle intervention (L), (ii) lifestyle intervention + insulin treatment (L+I) and (iii) insulin treatment alone (I).

Results  There was a reduction in HbA1c of −1.2 (interquartile range 1.0), −1.0 (1.7) and −1.5 (2.5)% in group L, L+I and I, respectively, and all treatment groups achieved beneficial changes in blood lipid variables. There was no significant difference between the groups in the change observed in levels of HbA1c between start and 12 months of treatment (P = 0.74). There was a significant difference in weight changes between groups (P < 0.01): group L reduced weight by median −3.0 (4.0) kg, groups L+I and I increased weight by 3.5 (3.4) and 4.9 (6.9) kg, respectively.

Conclusions  Lifestyle intervention was as effective as insulin treatment in improving glycaemic control in poorly controlled subjects with Type 2 diabetes, and resulted in weight loss during the intervention year. However, glycaemic control deteriorated and body weight increased in the lifestyle intervention group 1 year after the intervention stopped.