Behind the Headlines: Weight Management May Reduce the Need for Type 2 Diabetes Medication

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Scales with a tape measure on top

The Mail Online reports that “Diet and exercise are better than drugs at controlling type 2 diabetes”.

The Mail Online comments on a new Scottish study aiming to see whether attending a lifestyle weight management programme improves weight and blood sugar control in people with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

The study, which involved more than 20,000 adults in the Greater Glasgow and Clyde area looked at those who had type 2 diabetes and a body mass index (BMI) of 30 or above, so they would be considered clinically obese. Some (3,471) were referred to a 20-month weight management programme involving exercise advice, counselling, and a calorie-restricted diet of 600kcal per day. People were classified as completing the programme if they attended at least 8 sessions, and were considered “successful” if they lost at least 5kg.

People who successfully completed the programme (lost at least 5kg) improved their blood sugar control and didn’t need to increase their diabetes medications compared to those not referred or who didn’t successfully complete the programme.

The study generally shows that lifestyle weight management programmes can help obese people lose weight and improve their diabetes control. However, it highlights a “real world” problem of how many people would be willing to stick to the rules of the programme. In this study less than 10% of people referred successfully completed it and experienced benefits over the 3 years.

It would be useful to explore the reasons so few people successfully complete such programmes and see if there are ways they could be modified to make them more “completable” for people with type 2 diabetes and obesity.

For more information on the study, visit NHS Choices.