Groundbreaking diabetes study inspires permanent lifestyle change

Study participant Keith Spice
Study participant Keith Spice.
October 2, 2014

At age 64, Keith Spice is the picture of health – but it wasn't always so.

After years of being told by doctors that he is at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes, Keith enrolled in a world-first study currently underway at Fremantle Hospital which is looking at the potential benefits of treating men with testosterone supplements in conjunction with a dedicated weight-loss program. 

The $4.8 million study, led by the University of Adelaide nationally and the University of Western Australia locally, could have significant implications for the prevention of diabetes in middle-aged and older men.

Keith has lost 32 kilograms since enrolling in the study 18 months ago and is feeling fitter, healthier and completely re-energised.

“I used to attribute not being able to do things to old age,” the retired television executive said.

“But I’ve realised it wasn’t age at all – it was all to do with being overweight.”

Keith’s weight loss has improved his sleep patterns, blood sugar levels and other physiological aspects.

“I had been told for years that I was basically pre-diabetic, but now I’m nowhere near that,” he said.

“I honestly think I’ve saved my own life.”

Keith said he was grateful to the study for kick-starting his lifestyle change and grateful to his wife for encouraging him to stick with it.

“I was in desperate need of motivation and when I saw this I thought it was a good way to help medical research and help myself too,” he said.

“I couldn’t have done it without the love and support of my wife, Anne.”

Fremantle Hospital is one of five study centres Australia-wide and its research team, led by principal investigator Professor Bu Yeap, plays a key role in the study.

“This is the largest testosterone trial ever performed and will answer the question of whether testosterone can prevent diabetes in men at high risk of the disease,” Prof Yeap said.

Prof Yeap said researchers were still actively recruiting participants and he encouraged more men to get involved.

“We are asking other men aged 50-74, who are larger around the waist than they would like to be and are worried about their risk of diabetes, to visit the T4DM website and consider participating in the trial.”

Find out more or get involved by visiting the T4DM website (external site).

Fact File

  • Diabetes is the sixth leading cause of death in Australia.
  • The main risk factors for type 2 diabetes are age, being overweight, family history of diabetes, high cholesterol, high blood pressure and inactivity.
  • T4DM participants will receive either testosterone treatment or a placebo over two years and will be enrolled, free of charge, in a lifestyle management program delivered by Weight Watchers.