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Modest Weight Loss Slashes Diabetes Risk

October 28, 2009 | by Marla Paul

CHICAGO --- Intensive lifestyle changes aimed at modest weight loss reduced the rate of developing type 2 diabetes by 34 percent in people at high risk for the disease, according to a national study based on 10 years of data.

The Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine was a site in the National Institutes of Health study.

"I think it is striking that even a small amount of weight loss and increase in exercise has such a prolonged effect in delaying the onset or perhaps even preventing diabetes," said Mark E. Molitch, M.D., professor of medicine and principle investigator at the Feinberg School and an attending physician at Northwestern Memorial Hospital.

Participants randomly assigned to make lifestyle changes also had more favorable cardiovascular risk factors, including lower blood pressure and triglyceride levels, despite taking fewer drugs to control their heart disease risk, according to the study.

"The benefits were particularly profound for older individuals, people age 60 and older," added Molitch. He noted they lowered their rate of developing type 2 diabetes in the next 10 years by about half .

Treatment with the oral diabetes drug metformin reduced the rate of developing diabetes by 18 percent after 10 years compared with placebo.  
Results of the Diabetes Prevention Program Outcomes Study, which examines the persistence of the interventions tested in the Diabetes Prevention Program, will appear online in The Lancet on Oct. 29, 2009.

Topics: Research