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Monday
Oct222012

Read below the headlines: losing weight does help diabetics

The National Institutes of Health stopped the 11-year-old Look Ahead study last week. The press release explains:
An intensive diet and exercise program resulting in weight loss does not reduce cardiovascular events such as heart attack and stroke in people with longstanding type 2 diabetes
The diets just used a "variety of diet strategies (e.g. prepared meals and liquid formula)." It did not compare different approaches to weight loss, but focused on a "maximal weight loss program" with <30% of calories from fat and <10% from saturated fat. A handout recommends 2-3 serving of dairy every day, 2-3 servings of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, or dried beans, and only 3-5 servings of vegetables.

Losing weight by drinking diet shakes and eating more animal protein may not reduce cardiovascular trouble. It's a shame that this large study didn't look at other weight loss programs that do reduce cardiovascular problems, particularly whole-foods, plant-based diets that are much lower in fat.  

Read below the headlines. You'll see that even by just reducing the calories in the Standard American Diet and getting people to exercise "resulted in 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."

Dr. David Nathan, director of the Diabetes Center at Massachusetts General Hospital, told the New York Times in an article about the study:
You can take more medications - and more, I should say, expensive medications - or you can chose a lifestyle intervention and use fewer drugs and come to the same cardiovascular disease risk.

Sounds like the study found a way for people to lower health care costs and live better lives. It seems like good news, yet the popular press is reporting that "weight loss didn't help."

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