Weight loss did not reduce cardiovascular disease risk among people with type 2 diabetes, but may have other benefits

Losing weight is great for your self-esteem, but it’s also about having a healthier body, right? Well, not exactly according to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine. The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study investigated if weight loss would reduce cardiovascular-related disease and death. While weight loss was associated with several benefits, it was not related to a lower risk of cardiovascular events, such as heart attack, stroke, hospitalisation for angina or CVD-related death. At the start of the study, 5 145 overweight or obese people with type 2 diabetes were randomly assigned to a control group that got education about diabetes or to an intensive lifestyle program that promoted diet and exercise to promote weight loss. The study was stopped early, after a median follow up of 9.6 years, because it failed to show a difference in the primary outcome. Compared to the control group, weight loss and improvement in most risk factors for cardiovascular disease were greater in the intervention group. The most sustained improvements in the intervention group were A1c levels and systolic blood pressure. But there were no differences in cardiovascular events. The authors discuss possible reasons why they failed to find a difference between the groups. One was that the 6% to 8.5% weight loss in the intervention group was not sufficient to lower risk of cardiovascular disease. Another reason was that the education provided to the control group and their greater use of statins lessened the differences between the groups, which made it harder to show benefit from the lifestyle intervention. According to the article people in the intervention group may have reduced their medication use because the intervention improved risk factors for cardiovascular disease. According to other study findings, presented at the American Diabetes Association, people in the intervention group were less likely to develop kidney disease, retinopathy, depression, had fewer hospitalisations, and lower medical care costs. So keep the healthy eating, but remember it’s not a miracle cure for all your health problems.

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