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Weight loss no help for diabetes heart risks, but other benefits found

2012-10-21 22:45
Look AHEAD trial shows no cardiovascular benefits for diabetes weight loss.

People living with type 2 diabetes are at high risk for heart disease that includes heart attack, stroke and other disorders of the blood vessels. Results of a new study show weight loss is no help for curbing diabetes associated heart risks. But the good news is the study showed other health benefits associated with staying active and shedding pounds for people living with the disease.

Researchers wanted to see if intensive lifestyle interventions that lead to weight loss can lower the chances of cardiovascular disease for people living with diabetes. Unfortunately, the study was halted early after no cardiovascular benefits were found after 11 years.

But that doesn’t mean people with type 2 diabetes shouldn't stay active and try to reach their weight loss goals.

According to findings, even though heart outcomes weren't improved with weight loss, there were “…many positive health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes”, Dr. Rena Wing, chair of the Look AHEAD study and professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University wrote in a press release.

The investigation included 5,145 people. Scientists from 16 centers across the U.S. assigned half of the participants to receive intensive lifestyle intervention. The other half was given diabetes education and support. Both of the groups received regular medical care.

Weight loss was shown to decrease sleep apnea, reduce the need for medications to treat diabetes, helped maintain physical mobility and improved quality of life.

One of the most important findings for type 2 diabetes is that the study showed you can lose weight. After 1 year, participants lost more 8% of their initial body weight with lifestyle changes. After 4 years, they maintained an average of 5% weight loss.

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The NIH stopped the investigation this year at the advice of the study’s data and safety monitoring board because cardiovascular events didn’t decrease. No harm resulted to any of the participant in the intervention group.

The board recommended continuing to follow all of the participants to find out what the long-term benefits might be.

"The intervention group did not have fewer cardiovascular events than the group receiving general diabetes support and education, but one positive factor we saw was that both groups had a low number of cardiovascular events compared to previous studies of people with diabetes," said Dr. Mary Evans, director of Special Projects in Nutrition, Obesity, and Digestive Diseases within the NIH’s National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK).

Another very clear benefit of weight loss and activity gleaned from the Look AHEAD study is that exercise and a prudent diet can delay and even prevent type 2 diabetes that currently affects 24 million people in the U.S.; paralleling rising rates of overweight and obesity.

Source:
NIH News
October 19, 2012

Image credit: Morguefile

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