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Community Weight Loss Program Helps with Diabetes Management

Update Date: Apr 23, 2014 10:07 AM EDT

Losing weight and maintaining a healthier lifestyle can be difficult to achieve on your own. In a new study, researchers examined the effects of a community-based weight loss program for people with type 2 diabetes. They found that if these patients participated in a structured weight-loss program, they could lose weight, improve blood sugar control and reduce or stop insulin use and other medications more effectively than diabetic patients who are not enrolled in the program.

"Weight loss is a primary strategy for successful management of type 2 diabetes due to its impact on glycemic control and improvements in cardiovascular disease risk factors," lead investigator of the study, Cheryl L. Rock, PhD, RD, professor of Family and Preventive Medicine, said. "These study results suggest that patients not only lose weight on structured commercial weight loss programs that include behavioral modification and individual support, but that this weight loss translates to significant improvements in diabetes control and cardio-metabolic parameters."

For this study, the researchers enrolled 227 overweight diabetic patients from March 2012 through to August 2012 at the University of California San Diego and University of Minnesota, Minneapolis. The patients participated in either the experimental group, which was the structured weight-loss program or the control group.

The program taught patients how to care for their diabetes on their own, educated them about weight control and portioned-controlled food, and included a planned menu for the first six months. Throughout the one-year study period, there was also one-on-one counseling. The control group had standard care, such as general education about diabetes management, a one-hour session about weight loss at the beginning and at the end of the six-month period, and monthly phone or e-mail follow-ups. Jenny Craig provided the services.

The researchers found that participants from the experimental group experienced 8.2 percent weight loss whereas the control group only had 2.5 percent weight loss. The participants from the experimental group also had reductions in depression scores and medications use in comparison to the control group. They also had better blood sugar control whereas the control group did not show any significant changes.

"Support and a tailored lifestyle intervention have been shown to reduce cardiovascular disease risk factors and adverse outcomes in people with diabetes," added Rock. "However, most overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes do not receive this degree of support for changes in diet and physical activity to promote weight loss in their clinical care, due in part to constraints of time and training for most health care providers and clinicians."

The researchers believe that if these programs were more accessible to overweight diabetic patients, their overall health could improve significantly, which would then put less strain on the health care system. The study was published in Diabetes Care.

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