Study provides new evidence of weight loss benefits for type 2 diabetes patients

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Researchers in the School of Population Health at RCSI University of Medicine and Health Sciences have provided new evidence of the health benefits of weight loss efforts that lead to diabetes remission for type 2 diabetes patients.

For participants in the weight-loss trial who were able to achieve remission i.e. reduce the need for medications and reduce their HbA1c levels (a measure of blood sugar control), the research found there was a 40% lower rate of cardiovascular disease and 33% lower rate of chronic kidney disease in this group.

While previous trials have shown that substantial weight loss using diet and lifestyle can reverse type 2 diabetes, the new research published in Diabetologia is among the first to show that reversal of diabetes, in turn, affects cardiovascular and kidney disease outcomes. The research was led by Professor Edward Gregg, Head of the RCSI School of Population Health.

The study called Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) monitored over 5,000 patients during a period of 12 years. The magnitude of risk reduction was greatest for participants with evidence of at least four years of remission.

Using lessons learned from this study we can help inform diabetes treatment methods and improve quality of life for people with type 2 diabetes. It has highlighted the significance of weight loss for achieving remission from type 2 diabetes and then long-term positive cardiovascular and kidney disease outcomes."  

Professor Edward Gregg, Head of the RCSI School of Population Health

Over the course of the study, the effect intensive lifestyle intervention was compared with that of diabetes support and education on cardiovascular disease and other long-term health conditions. It was noted that although 18% of participants achieved remission at some point during follow-up, the percentage of participants with current remission had decreased to 3% by the 8th year of the study, underlining the challenges of keeping weight off using lifestyle interventions.

RCSI researchers collaborated on the study with colleagues Wake Forest University, Brown University and other study sites in the United States.

Journal reference:

Gregg, E.W., et al. (2024) Impact of remission from type 2 diabetes on long-term health outcomes: findings from the Look AHEAD study. Diabetologia.


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