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Press Releases: National

August 12, 2008

Losing Weight After Diabetes Diagnosis Can Prevent Diabetes-Related Disease, Kaiser Permanente Study Finds

First Clinical Study to Show Benefits Remain Even If Patients Regain Weight

Portland, Ore. – People who lose weight soon after a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes have better control of their blood pressure and blood sugar, and are more likely to maintain that control even if they regain their weight, according to a Kaiser Permanente study published online in Diabetes Care, the American Diabetes Association journal.

This is the first clinical study to show that benefits remain even if patients regain their weight. The study followed more than 2,500 adults with type 2 diabetes for four years. Those who lost weight within an average of 18 months after diagnosis were up to twice as likely to achieve their blood pressure and blood sugar targets as those who didn't lose weight. Those benefits can prevent diabetes-related heart disease, blindness, nerve and kidney damage, and death.

"Our study shows that early weight loss can reduce the risk factors that so often lead to diabetes complications and death," says Dr. Adrianne Feldstein, MD, MS, the study's lead author, a practicing physician and an investigator at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore. "Weíve known for a long time that weight loss is an important component in diabetes treatment and prevention. Now it appears there may be a critical window of opportunity following diagnosis in which some lasting gains can be achieved if people are willing to take immediate steps toward lifestyle changes."

Diabetes and Weightloss Advice www.kp.org More than 20 million Americans have type 2 diabetes and most of them are overweight or obese.

Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the four-year study conducted by Kaiser Permanente in Oregon and Washington followed 2,574 patients with type 2 diabetes between 1997 and 2002. Scientists followed the weight gain and loss patterns of these patients for three years, and then in the fourth year compared glucose control tests and blood pressure readings.

Most patients remained at about the same weight during the first three years of the study, but a small group of 314 patients lost an average of 23 pounds. This group was more likely to meet blood pressure and glucose targets during the fourth year even though, by that time, most of them had regained their weight.

"We donít know if the initial weight loss increased the body's sensitivity to insulin, or if the sustained lifestyle changes were the reason for the long-term health benefits," said Gregory A. Nichols, Ph.D., a study co-author at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research. "But we do know that losing weight reduces the risk factors that often lead to heart disease, blindness, nerve and kidney damage, amputations, and death in type 2 diabetes patients."

Although the study didn't examine specific methods for weight loss, prior studies conducted at Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research have demonstrated effective weight loss strategies. One recent study reported that diabetic patients who had nutritional counseling were about twice as likely to lose weight.

Another study found that people who keep food diaries lose twice as much weight as those who donít, and that people who attend support groups also lose more weight.

This study – The Weight Change in Diabetes and Glycemic and Blood Pressure Control study – was supported by grant from National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the National Institutes of Health. Study authors include: Adrianne C. Feldstein, MD, MS; Gregory A. Nichols, Ph.D.; David H. Smith, RPh, MHA, Ph.D.; Victor J. Stevens, Ph.D.; A. Gabriela Rosales, M.S. and Nancy Perrin, Ph.D., of the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research, and Keith Bachman, MD, of the Northwest Permanente Medical Group.

About the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research
Kaiser Permanente's Center for Health Research, founded in 1964, is a nonprofit research institution dedicated to advancing knowledge to improve health. It has research sites in Portland, Ore., Honolulu, Hawaii and Atlanta.

About Kaiser Permanente Research
Kaiser Permanente's eight research centers comprise one of the largest research programs in the United States and engage in work designed to improve the health of individuals everywhere. KP HealthConnect™, Kaiser Permanente's electronic health record, and other resources provide population data for research, and in turn, research findings are fed into KP HealthConnect to arm physicians with research and clinical data. Kaiser Permanente's research program works with national and local health agencies and community organizations to share and widely disseminate its research data. Kaiser Permanenteís research program is funded in part by Kaiser Permanenteís Community Benefit division, which in 2007 directed an estimated $1 billion in health services, technology, and funding toward total community health.

About Kaiser Permanente
Kaiser Permanente is committed to helping shape the future of health care. We are recognized as one of America’s leading health care providers and not-for-profit health plans. Founded in 1945, our mission is to provide high-quality, affordable health care services and to improve the health of our members and the communities we serve. We currently serve 8.6 million members in nine states and the District of Columbia. Care for members and patients is focused on their total health and guided by their personal physicians, specialists and team of caregivers. Our expert and caring medical teams are empowered and supported by industry-leading technology advances and tools for health promotion, disease prevention, state-of-the art care delivery and world-class chronic disease management. Kaiser Permanente is dedicated to care innovations, clinical research, health education and the support of community health. For more information, go to: www.kp.org/newscenter.