Study Says Active Healthy Lifestyle May Not Protect Diabetic Heart

3:18 PM, Jun 25, 2013   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- New research that studies patients with type 2 diabetes, reveals surprising findings.  

The Look AHEAD (Action for Health and Diabetes) trial randomized patients into two groups which entailed either an intensive lifestyle or a controlled group. Those who were enrolled in the intensive lifestyle focused on weight loss through a decrease in calorie intake and an increase in physical activity, while the control group was only educated on their disease. 

Those who participated in the intensive lifestyle resulted with weight loss in the first five years, however after that point there was subsequent weight regain. On the other hand, control patients had gradual but steady weight loss throughout the study. 

Rena Wing, Ph.D., of Brown University and leader of the study suggested that the reason the intensive group resulted in less weight loss over time was because the patients were taking less mediations such as statins, antihypertensives, and insulin. She also noted that there may have not been enough weight loss in the intensive group to reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. 

Essentially the study showed that lifestyle changes do not actively protect those with type 2 diabetes. Instead, medications and education on the disease can be more effective. 

Brian Choi, M.D. of George Washington University Medical Faculty Associates says, "the study should be interpreted with caution."

"The take home message should not be stop totally exercising and stop losing weight," adds Dr. Choi.

Dr. Choi also wants patients to be aware of yoyo-dieting which is when extreme weight loss can relapse into weight gain. Choi references weight loss by saying, "the way that you do it may be important as well in terms of losing weight over time instead of rapidly." 

Proof is not yet out there that shows the benefits of lifestyle versus the medication. However, the habits of a healthy life style such as exercise and eating along with the use of medications should be the way that patients deal with type 2 diabetes according to Dr. Choi. 

Findings from the Look AHEAD study are published online in the New England Journal of Medicine. 


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