All You Need Are Goals?

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Most of us know that setting goals can be a useful practice. But are goals the missing piece of successful diabetes management? A new study suggests that this may be the case.

As part of the GOAL Lifestyle Implementation Trial, participants ages 50–65 who were at risk for developing Type 2 diabetes were given a series of goal-setting sessions over eight months that focused on lifestyle changes. According to a Reuters Health article, at the one-year follow-up, they had lost an average of 1.76 pounds. Perhaps even more remarkably, at the three-year follow-up — with no further goal-setting sessions — participants had lost an average of 2.2 pounds. Of the participants who had impaired glucose tolerance, or prediabetes, 43% returned to normal glucose tolerance after three years and 12% developed diabetes.

The researchers who carried out the study, which was published in the August 2009 issue of the journal Diabetes Care, concluded that goal-setting sessions such as those used in the study could be a cost-effective way to achieve long-term improvement. But for a condition as complicated as Type 2 diabetes, at some point people at risk for it — or who already have it — need not just goals, but accurate information and sometimes regular feedback from medical professionals to achieve those goals.

Do you feel you had the right lifestyle goals before you developed diabetes? How much of developing Type 2 diabetes, in your view, depends on goals and willpower, and how much is due to the environment (including the food environment) and genetics? Has goal-setting been overlooked, or does this study say nothing new? Leave a comment below!

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