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Maintaining weight loss beneficial for people with Type 2 diabetes

October 09, 2019

DALLAS, Oct. 9, 2019 -- People with Type 2 diabetes who regained weight forfeited the initial benefits of reduced risk of heart disease or stroke compared to those who maintained their weight loss, according to new research published in the Journal of the American Heart Association, the open access journal of the American Heart Association.

Regaining weight previously lost is common and can deteriorate the initial benefits of lowered heart disease or stroke risks. Few studies have directly compared cardiometabolic risk between people who successfully lost weight and maintained the weight loss to those who regained weight, particularly among people with Type 2 diabetes.

Researchers analyzed data from nearly 1,600 participants with Type 2 diabetes in an intensive weight loss study who lost at least 3% of their initial body weight. They found that among those who lost 10% or more of their body weight and then maintained 75% or more of their weight loss four years later saw a significant improvement in risk factors, such as improved levels of HDL (good) cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure, waist circumference and diabetes control. However, those benefits deteriorated among those who regained weight.

"Our findings suggest that in addition to focusing on weight loss, an increased emphasis should be placed on the importance of maintaining the weight loss over the long-term," said Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc., senior study author and director of the Cardiovascular Nutrition Laboratory at the Human Nutrition Research Center on Aging at Tufts University in Boston, Massachusetts. "The bottom line is that maintaining the majority of the weight loss is essential to reducing cardiovascular risk." Lichtenstein is a member of the American Heart Association's Council on Lifestyle and Cardiometabolic Health - Lifestyle Nutrition Committee.

The researchers used data from the Look AHEAD study, which assessed a year-long intensive lifestyle intervention program to promote weight loss, compared to standard care for heart disease and stroke risk, among people diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes and who were overweight. The intensive lifestyle intervention program focused on achieving weight loss through healthy eating and increased physical activity, while standard care consisted of diabetes support and education. A three-year maintenance phase included monthly group meetings and recommendations to replace one meal per day with something similar to a replacement shake or bar, and to continue engaging in regular physical activity.
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Co-authors are Samantha E. Berger, Ph.D.; Gordon S. Huggins, M.D.; Jeanne M. McCaffery, Ph.D.; and Paul F. Jacques, D.Sc. Author disclosures are in the manuscript. The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the U.S. Department of Agriculture funded the study.

Additional Resources:Statements and conclusions of study authors published in American Heart Association scientific journals are solely those of the study authors and do not necessarily reflect the Association's policy or position. The Association makes no representation or guarantee as to their accuracy or reliability. The Association receives funding primarily from individuals; foundations and corporations (including pharmaceutical, device manufacturers and other companies) also make donations and fund specific Association programs and events. The Association has strict policies to prevent these relationships from influencing the science content. Revenues from pharmaceutical and device corporations and health insurance providers are available at https://www.heart.org/en/about-us/aha-financial-information.

About the American Heart Association

The American Heart Association is a relentless force for a world of longer, healthier lives. We are dedicated to ensuring equitable health in all communities. Through collaboration with numerous organizations, and powered by millions of volunteers, we fund innovative research, advocate for the public's health and share lifesaving resources. The Dallas-based organization has been a leading source of health information for nearly a century. Connect with us on heart.org, Facebook, Twitter or by calling 1-800-AHA-USA1.

American Heart Association

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