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Increased Muscle Mass Linked to Diabetes Prevention

A recent study out of the University of California, Los Angeles, suggests that increased muscle mass may be as important as weight control for preventing insulin resistance and type II diabetes. The findings were published online ahead of print on July 21, 2011, in the Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.

Very low muscle mass has been shown in previous studies to be a risk factor for insulin resistance. This is the first study that has sought to determine if increasing muscle mass would lead to improvements in blood glucose regulation.

The study examined the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey III, which included a representative sample of 13,644 American adults over the age of 20 who weighed at least 90 lbs. A large number of participants were over the age of 60, in order to represent the current demographic makeup of the US population.

The researchers adjusted for age, race, sex, and obesity and concluded that each 10% raise in skeletal mass index (SMI) resulted in an 11% reduction in insulin resistance and a 12% reduction in the prevalence of the early stages of diabetes.

Previous studies regarding diabetes prevention have focused more on body weight rather than muscle mass. The researchers suggest that doctors use these findings to expand their recommendations to pre-diabetic patients to include fitness maintenance and muscle building.

Studies have shown that the other effective ways to prevent the development of diabetes include regular exercise, maintaining a healthy weight and quitting smoking.

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