Unlike that study, a 2017 study in the Journal of Diabetes Research didn’t say HIIT was more effective, but they did suggest it could be better than a longer exercise in other ways. As the authors of the study write, “[Longer exercise] consisting of prolonged sessions has no quantitative advantage, compared with that resulting from HIIT, in abdominal visceral fat reduction. HIIT appears to be the predominant strategy for controlling obesity because of its time efficiency.”
A study published in the journal Diabetes Care (from the American Diabetes Association) found HIIT helped improve glycemic control in sedentary, overweight patients 60-80 years old who had type 2 diabetes.
You don’t have to be an elite athlete to find benefits with HIIT. 2007 measured 60 men and 186 women with an average of 63 years who participated in “high-intensity interval walking” for cycles of three minutes of fast walking and three minutes of slower walking. Researchers found the HIIT participants had improved blood pressure results. They even had increased flexibility in their knees.
As long as you do whatever your maximum effort is combined with a 50% effort for recovery time, you might be able to try HIIT. As always, consult your doctor before attempting any new exercise, especially one as vigorous as the Tabata method.