A total of 14 studies were identified which involved approximately 1 million people. The studies chosen were those which reviewed at least three lifestyle factors such as smoking status, alcohol consumption, physical activity, sedentary behaviour, diet, overweight status, and sleep duration or quality.
The studies used points systems to assess lifestyle quality of the participants. The researchers analysed the data and were able to compare those with the healthiest lifestyles (around 14% of the participants) with those with the least healthy lifestyles (around 11% of the participants).
A further 10 research trials, featuring 34,385 people, were selected for the analysis of people who had pre-existing type 2 diabetes.
The findings showed that people with the healthiest lifestyles had a 75% lower risk of developing type 2 diabetes when compared to those with the least healthy lifestyles.
Lifestyle quality was shown to be a more significant factor towards the risk of type 2 than weight status.
In addition to the reduction in risk of type 2 diabetes, the meta-analysis showed the healthiest lifestyles to be linked with additional health benefits such as lowering mortality risks from cardiovascular disease (CVD) and cancer as well as all-cause mortality.
The authors said: “This supports the recommendations from the American Diabetes Association and other organisations that lifestyle modification should be the cornerstone for the management of diabetes, and the findings from various trials indicating that healthy lifestyle interventions could reduce CVD outcomes in persons with type 2 diabetes.
“We encourage people to adopt healthy living habits for example as regards diet, activity, smoking and drinking. At the population level, governments should facilitate the changes needed to make healthy lifestyle choices accessible, affordable and sustainable.
“Given that the proportion of individuals with the healthiest lifestyle was found to be low in most populations, promotion of an overall healthy lifestyle, instead of tackling one particular lifestyle factor, should be a public health priority for all countries.”
The research has been published in the Diabetologia journal.
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