Optimizing lifestyle approaches for the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes

The rising incidence of type 2 diabetes (T2D) puts financial stress on health care systems in British Columbia and across the world. Lifestyle interventions can improve cardiometabolic health to prevent or treat T2D, but optimal lifestyle strategies (e.g. exercise intensity, type, timing; diet composition) are not well-defined and adherence is notoriously poor.

The goals of Dr. Little's research are to optimize lifestyle interventions for improving cardiometabolic outcomes and uncover potential mechanisms underlying these health benefits. The research program aims to improve cardiometabolic health and reduce inflammation via a series of translational studies to define the optimal exercise and diet strategies and uncover cellular mechanisms underlying the benefits. To translate findings for true health impact, YMCA has partnered to implement an HIIT walking intervention in the community. In addition, a randomized controlled trial will be implemented to evaluate the effectiveness of a pharmacist-led intervention, implemented through a network of 13 BC pharmacies, to teach patients with T2D how to follow a low-carb, high-fat (LCHF) diet while also reducing their medications. This has tremendous potential to change diabetes management in BC through an innovative pharmacist-led therapeutic nutrition program using LCHF diets.

The long-term goals of this research will be to develop optimal evidence-based exercise and diet interventions that improve patient health and inform clinical practice guidelines for the prevention and treatment of T2D. Elucidation of the cellular and molecular mechanisms underlying the anti-inflammatory effects of exercise and diet approaches will also be used to define the best anti-inflammatory lifestyle interventions, and identify potential therapeutic targets for prevention and treatment of T2D.