Booster Shots

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Weight loss -- a boon to people with diabetes

August 12, 2008 | 11:51 am

Yeah, yeah, you've heard it before. Weight loss. Good for you. Sorry to keep harping. (Tell it to the National Institutes of Health and the other bodies that keep funding this research.) Latest: A four-year clinical study of 2,574 adults found that those who lost weight within an average of 18 months after being diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes were twice as likely to bring their blood pressure and blood glucose levels down to a clinically set target by the fourth year than those who didn't. The number of participants who managed to do this: 314.  Average weight loss achieved by those 314 people: 23 pounds, or a nearly 10% loss in body weight, again on average.

The study, done by researchers at Kaiser Permanente and published online in the journal Diabetes Care, also reported that those who regained their weight -- and most of the 314 did -- were still more likely to control blood pressure and glucose. The scientists don't know why longer-term gains were seen: maybe people adapted their lifestyles in more healthful ways -- better diet, more exercise -- and those changes made a difference even after the weight came back. Or maybe something physiological happened as a result of the weight loss, such as increased, lasting sensitivity to insulin.

Regardless of the mechanism, the researchers think there may be some critical window after diagnosis wherein people are able to achieve lasting gains if they manage to take action. 

-- Rosie Mestel