March 4, 2005 -- When a woman with type 2 diabetes wants to lose her belly, exercise is her best friend.
Even if she diets perfectly, eating all the right foods in ideal amounts, her waistline may not budge unless she works out. Exercise is required to lose excess fat deep in the abdomen, says a new study.
Why is it so important to lose abdominal fat? Researchers have shown that having even a little extra fat in the wrong places can increase the chances of developing disease. Fat deep in the abdomen, called visceral fat, poses a greater health risk than fat on other parts of the body, such as the hips.
Focusing on Food and Fitness
Thirty-three obese, postmenopausal women participated. On average, they were about 57 years old and had had diabetes for at least one year.
The women were in for a major change when they enrolled in the 14-week study. None had dieted or exercised regularly in a year.
The women were divided into three groups. Some women were given a low-calorie diet high in healthy monounsaturated fats like olive oil.
The dieting women also got nutritional consultation, a week's worth of menu ideas, and a weekly meeting for motivation and support.
Another group was given a supervised aerobic exercise program consisting of walking 50 minutes three times a week, occasionally doing other activities for variety. The third group followed both programs.
Before and after the study the women got MRI scans to see how much visceral fat they had.
Diet alone did not reduce visceral fat. Only exercise alone or exercise plus dieting reduced visceral fat.
The researchers say their study demonstrates the importance of exercise in reducing visceral fat in the treatment of women with type 2 diabetes.
The study appears in the March issue of The Journal of Clinical Endocrinology & Metabolism.