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Research Corner: Modest weight loss reduces heart disease risk in people who have diabetes

Moderate weight loss is strongly associated with a decrease in heart disease risk.

Tip to take away: You don’t have to lose a huge amount to make a big difference in your health.  In fact, by losing just 5 to 10% of your initial body weight, you can lower your A1c, blood pressure and triglycerides.  This would mean a 200 pound person would need to lose only 10 to 20 pounds. Whether you’re thinking about starting a weight loss program, or if you’re in the midst of one, be encouraged that modest weight loss can have immediate health benefits.

 Study summary:  The authors looked at data from the Look AHEAD study, an ongoing national study of overweight volunteers with type 2 diabetes.  Look AHEAD is monitoring the effects on heart disease risk of weight loss through decreased calorie intake and physical activity.  After 1 year in the study, the participants who lost 5 to 10% of their initial body weight were more likely to have lowered their HbA1c by 0.5%, blood pressure by 5 points, and triglyceride level by 40 points and to have increased HDL-cholesterol by 5 points.  Individuals who lost more weight showed even more dramatic improvements in these levels.  In the study, individuals were divided into a “diabetes care” group and a “lifestyle intervention” group, but those who lost at least 5% of their initial body weight showed a similar decrease in heart disease risk in both groups.  


Wing RR, Lang W, Wadden TA, et al.  Benefits of modest weight loss in improving cardiovascular risk factors in overweight and obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.  Diabetes Care 2011;34:1481-1486.

Abstract available at:

For more information:

Look AHEAD website

Small steps for eating healthy foods.  National Diabetes Education Program

Small steps for getting more physical activity.  National Diabetes Education Program

More than willpower: Lose weight for good.  Diabetic

Twelve tips for weight loss.  Diabetic

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4 Awesome Comments So Far

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    December 16, 2011 at 6:20 am #

    What is a good fat burning or calorie burning excersize besides running?

    • Maria Curcio, MS, RD, CDE
      December 20, 2011 at 2:07 pm #

      Cycling, walking, swimming, dancing, gardening…any activity that is sustained for either shorter duration at moderate intensity or longer duration at a lower intensity will use calories. Thanks for your question and checking out our blog! Have a great day!

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  3. Stephen in Orlando
    February 20, 2012 at 4:32 am #

    This is a real problem that we have in our country today. There are literally thousands of people who will have only their “first” heart attack this year. Luckily there is a decent amount of diabetes clinical research being done. Medical investigators are working to develop new forms of treatment which are less painful and more effective. As it seems, some this recent research should be able to help out with other medical conditions as well.

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