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Do Weight Management Programs Help Treat Type 2 Diabetes?

A recent study evaluated the effectiveness of introducing weight management programs to help treat and potentially make a clinical difference in patients with diabetes.

Given that type 2 diabetes is associated with obesity, a recent study published in Diabetes Obesity and Metabolism investigated whether the introduction of a weight management program has the potential to help type 2 diabetes patients. The program was aimed to help patients lose weight long-term, thereby improving their glycemic control and hopefully lead to a subsequent reduction in their diabetes medicine.

The study investigated the outcomes of 1,537 patients in the United Kingdom diagnosed with both type 2 diabetes and obesity. They participated in the 16-week lifestyle program conducted by the NHS (National Health Service of the United Kingdom) which involved nine 90-minute sessions. The program also included a low-calorie diet and advice given to participants on physical activity. In comparison to previous studies, some of which were more intensive, lasted several months, and required adherence to low-calorie liquid diets, this study evaluated a real-life program that the NHS is currently offering and may improve long-term adherence.

Lifestyle Program Success

Successful completion of the program was defined as participants who lost 5 kg or more. Of all the patients in the study, 40% attended seven to nine of the sessions and managed to lose 5 kg or more after the 16-week program. Long-term follow-up also showed that those who successfully completed the program continued to lose weight after three years, compared to participants who did not complete the program or who were not a part of the programme.

The researchers also observed a clinically significant decrease in the average blood sugar levels, determined by measuring a patient’s glycated haemoglobin or HbA1C level, after three years. This inexpensive intervention method also showed that the patients who managed to successfully complete the program were the only patient group who did not increase their use of oral medications and were less likely to end up insulin dependent.

Largest Challenge: Convincing Clinicians

The assumption that many people regain weight after the completion of such a program was proved otherwise, as those who did complete the 16-week program on average continued attending the program for at least another year. In spite of the success, the largest challenge seems to be convincing clinicians of the effectiveness of such weight loss programs for patients with type 2 diabetes. This leads to few patients being referred for the NHS programs which are currently under-resourced, despite being recommended by the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence.

Therefore, these results show the clinically significant difference these types of programs can have for patients with type 2 diabetes. Hence, it is hoped by researchers this study will help convince clinicians and patients that the introduction of such lifestyle programs for weight loss is an important part of treatment for patients with type 2 diabetes.

Written by Lacey Hizartzidis, PhD

Reference: NHS weight management programme makes clinical difference in patients with type 2 diabetes. The BMJ website Accessed January 19th, 2018.



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