NIH-funded study finds weight loss offers no cardiovascular benefits
AURORA, Colo. – An intensive diet and exercise program resulting in weight loss does not reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke in people with long-standing type 2 diabetes, according to a study supported by the National Institutes of Health.
The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study tested whether a lifestyle intervention resulting in weight loss would reduce rates of heart disease, stroke and cardiovascular-related deaths in overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes — a group at increased risk for these events. At the Denver site of the study, James O. Hill, PhD, served as the principal investigator. Hill is the executive director of the CU Anschutz Health and Wellness Center.
Researchers at 16 centers across the United States, including Denver, worked with 5,145 people, with half randomly assigned to receive an intensive lifestyle intervention and the other half to a general program of diabetes support and education. Both groups received routine medical care from their own health care providers.
Although the intervention did not reduce cardiovascular events, Look AHEAD has shown other important health benefits of the lifestyle intervention, including decreasing sleep apnea, reducing the need for diabetes medications, helping to maintain physical mobility, and improving quality of life. Previous Look AHEAD findings are available at www.lookaheadtrial.org .
“Look AHEAD found that people who are obese and have type 2 diabetes can lose weight and maintain their weight loss with a lifestyle intervention,” said Dr. Rena Wing, chair of the Look AHEAD study and professor of psychiatry and human behavior at Brown University. “Although the study found weight loss had many positive health benefits for people with type 2 diabetes, the weight loss did not reduce the number of cardiovascular events.”
Data are currently being analyzed to fully understand the cardiovascular disease results. Investigators are preparing a report of the findings for a peer-reviewed publication.
“Look AHEAD provides important, definitive information about the long-term health effects of weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes,” said NIDDK Director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers. “Beyond cardiovascular disease, this study and others have shown many other health benefits of weight loss through improved diet and increased physical activity. For example, for overweight and obese adults at high risk for diabetes, modest weight loss has been shown to prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes.”
Participants were 45 to 76 years old when they enrolled in the study. Sixty percent of enrollees were women. More than 37 percent were from racial and ethnic minority groups. Researchers now are analyzing data to measure effects of the lifestyle intervention on subgroups, including racial and ethnic groups and people with a history of cardiovascular disease.
Contact: Amy Reiter 301-496-3583