Depression Reduces Effectiveness of Diabetes Prevention Programs

Adults who report experiencing a greater number of symptoms of depression may get less exercise, putting them at an increased risk of developing type 2 diabetes, according to new research in the journal Diabetes Care.


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Depression is known to affect diabetes management, but the impact of depressive symptoms on diabetes prevention hasn’t been as well understood. To investigate the potential effects, researchers from the Diabetes Research Centre at the University of Leicester in the U.K. looked at data on daily physical activity and depression symptoms in 1,163 subjects in the Let’s Prevent Type 2 Diabetes and Walking Away from Type 2 Diabetes programs. Participants had their daily steps recorded with a pedometer or accelerometer and answered questionnaires at the beginning of the studies evaluating symptoms of depression and again annually for three years.

The researchers discovered that participants randomly assigned to the walking program took an average of 363 more steps per day than those randomly assigned to standard care. Those who did not report any depressive symptoms during the study took 592 steps more, on average, each day, while those who reported depressive symptoms took 88 fewer steps per day for each symptom.

“This study suggests that the presence of depressive symptoms is associated with a reduction in the effectiveness of diabetes prevention programs at promoting physical activity within primary care,” noted Thomas Yates, PhD, MSc, BSc, and colleagues. “Therefore, diabetes prevention programs should consider broadening their content to include a focus on depression as a core aim.”

Want to learn more about diabetes and depression? Read Dealing With Diabetes and Depression,” “Diabetes Distress and Depression” and “Depression: Not a Normal Part of Aging.”

Diane Fennell

Diane Fennell

Senior Digital Editor for, Fennell has 16 years’ experience specializing in diabetes and related health conditions. Based in New York City, she has a degree from Columbia University.

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