“The major finding showed that a lifestyle intervention combining physical activity and diet decreased the number of medications taken by type 2 diabetes patients, which represented a reduction around 110 euros [~$120]per participant in the annual cost of medication,” Dutheil said.
During follow-up, the 29 participants were each followed by a different general practitioner. These physicians continued treatment for type 2 diabetes as usual and were not in contact with study investigators.
At one year, more than half of the study participants had stopped or decreased their diabetes medications (54%). In comparison only 19% of participants increased or introduced new medications (P=.02). After the intervention, there was a decrease of 1.3 pills per day at 1 year (P<.001).
Additionally, the annual cost of medications for type 2 diabetes was lower at one-year post-intervention (135.1 euros [~$147] vs. 212.6 euros [~$231]; P=.03). The global tendency over the one-year study showed about a 50 euro decrease in medications for high blood pressure and a 60 euro decrease in medications for type 2 diabetes.
A multivariable analysis controlling for weight, central fat, blood pressure, lipids profile, glucose metabolism, inflammation and fitness test results showed that glycemia and HbA1c were the only factors independently associated with the cost of routine medications.
The study had several limitations including the small number of participants and the lack of a control group for comparison.
“Despite limitations precluding generalizability, cost effective results of reduced medication should contribute to the evidence-base required to promote lifestyle interventions for individuals with type 2 diabetes,” Dutheil said.