Maintaining weight loss can protect heart health in people with diabetes

In a new study, researchers found people with type 2 diabetes who regained weight forfeited the initial benefits of reduced risk of heart disease or stroke compared to those who maintained their weight loss.

The research was conducted by a team from Tufts University in Boston.

Regaining weight previously lost is common and can deteriorate the initial benefits of lowered heart disease or stroke risks.

Few studies have directly compared cardio-metabolic risk between people who successfully lost weight and maintained the weight loss to those who regained weight, particularly among people with type 2 diabetes.

In the study, the team analyzed data from nearly 1,600 participants with type 2 diabetes in an intensive weight loss study who lost at least 3% of their initial body weight.

The intensive lifestyle intervention program focused on achieving weight loss through healthy eating and increased physical activity, while standard care consisted of diabetes support and education.

A three-year maintenance phase included monthly group meetings and recommendations to replace one meal per day with something similar to a replacement shake or bar and to continue engaging in regular physical activity.

They found that among those who lost 10% or more of their body weight and then maintained 75% or more of their weight loss four years later, there was a big improvement in HDL (good) cholesterol, triglycerides, glucose, blood pressure, waist circumference, and diabetes control.

However, those benefits deteriorated among those who regained the weight.

The findings suggest that in addition to focusing on weight loss, increased emphasis should be placed on the importance of maintaining the weight loss over the long-term.

The team says the bottom line is that maintaining the majority of the weight loss is essential to reducing heart disease risk.

One author of the study is Alice H. Lichtenstein, D.Sc.

The study is published in the Journal of the American Heart Association.

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