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Does a Better Diet Really Make a Difference With Diabetes?

Weight loss, plus exercise, can make a difference in helping people with type 2 diabetes get their hemoglobin A1c -- the measure of average blood sugar levels -- to the goal of less than 7%, Hamdy has found.

He reported on results of a program at Joslin Diabetes Center called Why WAIT (Weight Achievement and Intensive Treatment), in which those with type 2 diabetes are encouraged to lose weight by following the Joslin guidelines for overweight patients.

In a report on 85 WAIT participants, he found that they reduced their initial weight by an average of 24 pounds after 12 weeks. About 82% of the participants reached the target A1c of less than 7%.

Their cholesterol levels improved significantly, too. And participants needed less diabetes medicine once they lost weight.

Lifestyle Changes Are Doable

Lifestyle changes are possible, says Ginn-Meadow of Joslin in Baltimore. "I had a patient who came in with an A1c of 8%," she tells WebMD. "By making lifestyle changes, counting carbs, and eating better, he got it down to 5.8%," she says. He was 65 years old and had had type 2 diabetes for over 15 years, she said. And he got results in four months.

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