For 64-year-old Ruthie Gentry-Ford, it's been a nagging concern her whole life.
"Some day I may be a candidate for diabetes if I don't continue to watch my weight," she says.
Like millions of other overweight elderly Americans, the pressure to slim down and avoid diabetes is huge and, as CBS News Correspondent Elizabeth Kaledin reports, finding the right diet is a challenge.
But researchers at the University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences say a study conducted there could help.
They put dozens of people like Ruthie, ages 56 to 78 and all at risk of diabetes, on a low-fat, high-carbohydrate diet, but did not cut any calories.
"Lots of bagels, lots of fruit and vegetables.
Participants exercised four times a week and after 12 weeks lost an average of 11 pounds.
"Essentially what our study showed is that you can lose weight by just reducing your fat intake without reducing your total calorie intake," says Dr. William Evans.
Of course, the study contradicts the current diet craze that says fat is fine and blames weight gain on our love of carbohydrates like breads and pasta. But that's a short-term fix. Researchers say people at risk of diabetes need a diet they can stick with.
By not cutting calories, the University of Arkansas diet left its customers satisfied.
"This is a diet people can live with and should live with the rest of their lives," says Evans.
The study is too small to draw large conclusions from, but for now it's working for Gentry-Ford, except for one thing:
"Every now and then I miss the Kentucky Fried Chicken," she says.
Then she remembers how good it feels to be lowering her risk of diabetes and she digs into a turkey sandwich instead.
Copyright 2004 CBS. All rights reserved.