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  [ 25 votes ]   [ Discuss This Article ] • July 29, 2003

A Harvard doctor believes his nutritional advice could help people avoid type 2 diabetes, and along the way, lay the foundation for better control of their weight.

"What you eat plays a big role in preventing diabetes, " says Walter C. Willett, M.D., author of Eat, Drink and Be Healthy. "This is probably one of the most preventable diseases. Over 90 percent of cases can be avoided with simple and attainable diet and lifestyle changes."

Type 2 diabetes (also called adult-onset diabetes, or non-insulin-dependent diabetes), is the most prevalent form of the disease in the United States, according to the American Diabetic Association. It is a major cause of early death, heart disease, kidney disease, stroke, and blindness, and is at epidemic proportions due to a population that eats too much of the wrong food and doesn't exercise enough.

Dr. Willett says that the risk of developing adult-onset diabetes is five to 50-fold higher in overweight individuals as in those who are within their healthy weight range. In fact, the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases reports that studies show that a weight gain of a little more than 2 pounds raises the risk of developing diabetes by 4.5 percent.

But "the right choice of fats and carbohydrates will reduce diabetes risk, independent of effects on weight, and probably will make it easier to control weight, which is extremely important," Dr. Willett says.

(Source: Harvard Medical School's Consumer Health Information, at

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