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Mild Weight Loss Cuts Type 2 Diabetes

Type 2 Diabetes Patients May Benefit Even From Modest Weight Loss
WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

June 29, 2007 -- Weight loss doesn't have to be dramatic to help the health of people with type 2 diabetes, a new study shows.

The study, called Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes), included 5,145 people with type 2 diabetes.

The key finding: Losing a modest amount of weight -- about 8% -- reaped big health rewards, including better blood sugar control and less need for diabetes and blood pressure drugs.

"We're encouraged, based on our experience with Look AHEAD, that many overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes are able to achieve and maintain 7% to 10% or greater weight loss over the course of one year," researcher Mark Espeland, PhD, tells WebMD.

Espeland works in the public health sciences division of Wake Forest University's medical school.

Weight Loss and Type 2 Diabetes

In type 2 diabetes, the body doesn't respond properly to insulin, a hormone that controls blood sugar. Being overweight or obese makes people more likely to develop type 2 diabetes.

Look AHEAD participants first weighed in, got checkups, and took exercise tests. Then they were randomly split into two similar groups.

Participants in one group got an intensive lifestyle makeover to help them lose at least 7% of their body weight in the study's first year. They attended dozens of group meetings, ate portion-controlled diets, and got help from behavioral psychologists and exercise specialists.

Their portion-controlled diets included liquid meal replacements or structured meal plans. Those participants were encouraged to walk or get other physical activity at home.

For comparison, participants in the other group got standard care, education, and support for their type 2 diabetes, with few group meetings and no specific diet or exercise plan.

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