HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - The University of Hawaii's John A. Burns School of Medicine tracked the effectiveness of lifestyle changes over medication for diabetes prevention.
The study followed 72 high risk participants in Hawaii for 16 years as part of a 27 State clinical trial.
Volunteers had different motivations for sticking with the study.
For Leroy Piiohia, it was for his family. He said, "It's really good what I learned not just for myself. What I learned I incorporated with my wife and my children."
He was part of the intensive lifestyle group that showed the best results.
In the first four years of the study, diabetes was prevented or delayed by 58 percent with exercise, weight loss, and nutrition changes.
Al Batungbacal was in the same group and said, "I got in by accident. My wife was supposed to take test. I took it and they said she was okay, but I wasn't so that's how I got in."
He's the only one of four participants who shared their stories at a press conference who doesn't have diabetes.
Joy Gold received a placebo, while others from Hawaii's test group received a diabetes drug called Metformin.
"Metformin was 31 percent lower rate of diabetes" said Hawaii trial leader, Dr. Richard Arakaki. "At 4 years, we had enough information to show that diabetes could be prevented with the two treatment arms that we chose."
16 years later, the reduced risk for the intensive lifestyle group is still strong, at 27 percent.
The other groups have adopted the same changes to reduce their weight and increase physical activity.
Co-program Coordinator Mae Isonaga said,"Most of the folks walked. That's how they got 150 minutes a week which is what we were recommending."
Piiohia added, "Hopefully other families can learn it can be dealt with even if you get diabetes."
28,000 people in Hawaii have diabetes and don't know it.
You can take a risk test at