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What are the treatments for type 2 diabetes?

Grandparents and grandchild riding bikes

Several solutions exist for the prevention and treatment of this condition: initial treatment of type 2 diabetes consists of implementing a well-balanced diet combined with regular physical activity. If the changes in lifestyle are ineffective, antidiabetic drug therapy and insulin therapy may be proposed.

Weight loss 

Excess weight and obesity are recognised as primary risk factors for type 2 diabetes. They usually result from poor nutrition and prolonged physical inactivity. For this reason, treatment of type 2 diabetes usually begins with making lifestyle improvements.

To this end, your GP will recommend an adapted diet combined with regular physical activity. These lifestyle changes are aimed at supporting weight loss whilst gaining better management of blood glucose levels.

Weight loss goals are specific to each person and depend on their age and general health.

Dietary improvements

Bowls of different sugars on a countertop

For successful treatment of type 2 diabetes, you should consider maintaining a well-balanced diet  as soon as a positive diagnosis has been made, the overall goal being to adapt the food intake to each person’s individual needs, particularly their energy expenditure.

To prevent and treat type 2 diabetes, it is vital to reduce overall carbohydrate (sugar) intake and increase fibre. Quantities aside, special attention should also be paid to the quality and sources of the carbohydrates. Fruit and vegetables are recommended, along with whole-grains.

Reducing intake of animal protein, starch (potatoes, rice, corn etc), and fatty and processed foods; containing simple sugars such as glucose and fructose (sweets, sodas, ready-made meals) is also recommended.

If these guidelines are a little confusing, a good place to start is with Mediterranean style diets that are universally regarded as being healthy and are therefore highly recommended in the prevention and treatment of type 2 diabetes.

Sport and physical exercise

type 2 diabetes physical exercise

Regular physical activity is an important factor in the successful treatment of type 2 diabetes and reduces the risk of developing the condition by about 30%.

Physical activity can be sport, but there are numerous other forms of exercise. Simply getting up and moving around instead of sitting for long periods of time is beneficial. Movement and exercising every day does not only burn calories but also has a positive effect on insulin sensitivity and blood glucose levels.

How often should a person with type 2 diabetes exercise?

At least 30 minutes of exercise per day is recommended to see the benefits of physical activity on type 2 diabetes.

Antidiabetic medication

When type 2 diabetes is too severe or when transitioning to a healthy lifestyle is not enough to significantly reduce blood glucose levels, oral diabetes medication can sometimes  be recommended. Metformin is the recommended first-line medication for the treatment of type 2 diabetes, but there are other alternatives available.

How does metformin work?

Along with lifestyle changes, Metformin is the standard medication for treating type 2 diabetes.

The main benefits of this particular diabetes medicine are that it acts on insulin resistance, it doesn’t cause hypoglycaemia and it reduces vascular complications brought on by diabetes.

Metformin also promotes weight loss, which is why it is especially recommended for people with excess weight or obesity problems.


Insulin therapy may be proposed as treatment for type 2 diabetes to reduce the risk of vascular complications and gain better management of blood glucose levels.

The required amount of insulin is calculated to suit each individual. It should help regulate blood glucose levels while preventing hypoglycaemia and avoiding excess weight gain, which can be one of the effects of a dose that is too high.


  1. Andreas F. H. Pfeiffer, Harald H. Klein. The Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes. Dtsch Arztebl Int. 2014 Jan; 111(5): 69–82.
  2. Bolla AM, Caretto A, Laurenzi A, Scavini M, Piemonti L. Low-Carb and Ketogenic Diets in Type 1 and Type 2 Diabetes. Nutrients 2019, 11(5), 962.
  3. Hubert Kolb, Stephan Martin. Environmental/lifestyle factors in the pathogenesis and prevention of type 2 diabetes. BMC Med. 2017; 15: 131.

About Making Diabetes Easier

Air Liquide Healthcare UK is committed to improving quality of life for people with diabetes. Our healthcare teams provide patients and their loved ones with education, support and personalisation of care.

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