Individuals may fare better with lifestyle changes, compared with drug treatment, in warding off metabolic syndrome. The syndrome is a group of disorders that include obesity, high cholesterol, hypertension, and elevated blood sugar levels. The combination can lead to diabetes and heart disease.
For the study, 3234 participants were enrolled in the Diabetes Prevention Program. They were randomly assigned to take metformin or an inactive placebo pill or to start a rigorous lifestyle intervention designed to reach and maintain a 7% weight loss and including 150 minutes of exercise per week. The participants had not yet developed outright diabetes but had high blood glucose levels.
Reporting in the Annals of Internal Medicine (April 19, 2005), the researchers diagnosed metabolic syndrome in 53% of the participants overall while they were in the program. After 3 years, the rate fell from 53% to 43% in the lifestyle group. Yet, the placebo group and metformin group saw an increase55% to 61% and 54% to 55%, respectively.