Results from a clinical study conducted at the Temple University School of Medicine and published today in the journal Postgraduate Medicine(1), show that a pre-packaged, portion controlled meal plan helped overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes lose significantly more weight and reduce their A1C test scores (a 90-day measure of blood sugar control) by almost a full point greater than those following a standard hospital-based diabetes support and education program, according to the findings. This weight loss was also associated with significant reductions in blood pressure, cholesterol and waist circumference.
The research team, led by Dr. Gary Foster, Director of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University School of Medicine, followed 69 (49 F, 20 M) overweight people with type 2 diabetes, a body-mass index of 39.0 +/- 6.2 kg/m2 and a hemoglobin A1C of 7.5 +/- 1.6%. Participants were randomly assigned to either a portion-controlled diet (Nutrisystem D) or a diabetes support and education program (DSE).
In the study, the Nutrisystem D group lost significantly more weight (8.2 +/- 5.2 kg compared to 0.6 +/- 2.6 kg) (p < .0001) and experienced greater reductions in A1C levels (-0.88 +/- 1.10 versus 0.03 +/- 1.09; p < .001) compared to the DSE group after three months.
"Weight loss brings impressive improvement in the control of diabetes," explains Dr. Foster, the principal investigator of the study. "People with diabetes have to perform mental gymnastics when they attempt to lose weight- balancing carbohydrates, fats and proteins with overall calories, all while keeping their blood sugar in check. The complexity can cause many people to become frustrated and give up."
"The pre-packaged and portion controlled Nutrisystem D meal program seems to alleviate some of those potential diet pitfalls for people with diabetes by providing nutritionally-balanced and convenient meals," continues Dr. Foster. "A structured plan empowers overweight people with type 2 diabetes to transition from feeling overwhelmed by meal planning to instead making healthy food choices that can have a positive impact on both weight loss and blood sugar control."
The Diabetes - Diet Connection
More than 23 million Americans suffer from diabetes. Nearly all adults with diabetes are overweight, and more than half are obese.(2) In research studies, even modest weight loss (5-7% of total body weight) has been shown to improve blood glucose, blood pressure, and cholesterol levels and lower the risk of heart disease in overweight people with type 2 diabetes.(3) Other clinical studies have shown that weight loss within the first three years of being diagnosed with diabetes, can lead to long-lasting health benefits, even if the lost weight is eventually regained.(4)( )Furthermore, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports that in general, every percentage point drop in A1C blood test results (e.g., 8.0% to 7.0%) can reduce the risk of microvascular complications (eye, kidney and nerve damage) by 40%.(5)
The American Diabetes Association (ADA) has emphasized the need for structured programs that emphasize lifestyle changes, including education, reduced fat and energy intake, regular physical activity, and regular participant contact. Programs like these can produce long-term weight loss of 5-7% of starting weight and reduce the risk for developing diabetes, according to the ADA.(6)
Participants in the Temple University study were all provided nutrition education, counseling and ongoing support in group sessions led by a registered dietician and certified diabetes educator. Topics covered in these education sessions included self-monitoring, stimulus control and relapse management. All participants were prescribed physical activity, such as walking.
"Our goal was to provide the same basic counseling that any person with diabetes would typically receive, whether newly diagnosed or living with the disease for many years," explains Dr. Foster. "In each case, the addition of the structured diet program seemed to be the catalyst for weight loss and improved blood sugar management."
Nutrisystem D Now Commercially Available
The Nutrisystem D program is now available for overweight people with type 2 diabetes. The program includes 150 pre-packaged, portion controlled meals, formulated using a low glycemic approach which emphasizes healthy whole grains, as well as low fat and low sodium foods. The Glycemic Index measures how quickly food is broken down and absorbed by the body, which impacts blood sugar, a vital factor for people managing their diabetes. A recent clinical study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) showed that for patients with type 2 diabetes, 6-month treatment with a low-glycemic index diet resulted in moderately lower HbA(1c) levels compared with a high-cereal fiber diet.(7)
Nutrisystem customers also receive a welcome kit which includes a meal planner, a resource guide highlighting Nutrisystem tips and tools for weight loss, and an on-the-go meal planner. Nutrisystem recommends a combination of diet and exercise to lose weight. Nutrisystem D is a comprehensive weight loss program. It does not treat, cure or prevent diabetes, and is not a substitute for diabetic medications.