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24 May 2010 | PR 10/87

Loughborough experts make historic STAND against diabetes

LOUGHBOROUGH University researchers have opened a new front on the war on diabetes.

Experts from the University’s School of Sport, Exercise and Health Sciences are undertaking a study with staff from the University Hospitals of Leicester into whether changes to an inactive lifestyle in young adults can be made for those at risk of Type 2 diabetes.

Previous research has focused on the impact of physical activity on reducing diabetes risk in this age group, but there is now a focus on the potential importance of studying sedentary behaviour, i.e. the amount of time young adults spend sitting down.

The first of its kind in the UK, the University’s ‘Project STAND’ (Sedentary Time And Diabetes) has been funded by a grant of £450,000 from the Medical Research Council, and aims to discover whether an education programme can successfully impact on sedentary behaviour, as well as examining whether less time spent being inactive can bring down the chance of diabetes taking hold.

Stuart Biddle, Professor of Exercise and Sport Psychology, is the principal investigator on the project.

He said: “There is strong evidence emerging now that people who spend excessive amounts of sitting time are more risk of diabetes compared with those who get up more and walk around more, even if they are not that physically active in the traditional sense.

“But we don’t have data on whether we can change sedentary behaviour, particularly in young adults. There have been some intervention studies with children but not adolescents or other ages.”

Interviews got under way in April with people in the 18-30 age range who are at risk of diabetes through being overweight. Pilot testing of the team’s intervention method is set to begin in autumn 2010 with full trials, which will last a whole year, scheduled to begin in 2011.

Prof Biddle explained: “We will look to recruit young adults into structured education workshops. Volunteers will have a professional education programme and will be given chance to work through behaviour change and then they will be given some support when they leave that programme.

“We will then monitor them for a full year after that with the help of a device that will record periods of low activity levels, and they will be compared with a group who will not have gone through the structured education programme.”

The programme will take the form of a three-hour, theory-based patient-centred session aimed at behaviour change for participants in the intervention group, while the control group will be given a leaflet on diabetes and the importance of increasing physical activity and decreasing sedentary behaviour.

“This study will certainly tell us something about whether sedentary behaviour is important,” added Prof. Biddle. “The trial will inform behaviour change programmes for this at-risk group and provide a major new direction of behaviour change alongside the more conventional use of encouraging increases in moderate-to-vigorous physical activity.”

For more information, or if you are interested in taking part in the study, you can email: projectstand@lboro.ac.uk


For all media enquiries contact:

Danny Coyle
Sport PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 223491
E: D.Coyle@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2009 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top five universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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