Weight loss and diet changes don't prevent strokes or heart attacks in diabetics, study finds

Scientists have pulled the plug on a long-term diabetes study.

The reason? The results weren't showing any promise for participants.

The federal study by the National Institute of Health (NIH) aimed to discover whether or not diet and weight loss could be preventative factors in warding off heart attacks and strokes in overweight people with Type 2 diabetes. After 11 years--just two years shy of the study's completion date--researchers have ended trials because the program did not show the expected benefits.

Details of the study

The study followed 5,145 overweight or obese adults who were 45-76 years old. The two groups, one that was assigned a rigorious exercise routine and diet and another that was simply given health information, had almost identical instances of strokes, heart attacks and cardiovascular-related deaths. Furthermore, the two groups also had comparable levels of blood sugar, cholesterol and blood pressure. After these findings, scientists deemed it useless to continue the study.

While researchers claim that participants in the test group did show "meaningful" weight loss--about 5 percent--it is still unclear to them why dietary and exercise changes did not reduce the risk for dangerous cardiovascular conditions. Furthermore, the study's findings may suggest that moderate weight loss is not enough to combat these conditions.

Medication vs. lifestyle choices

Further details of the study's findings have yet to be published, but one researcher notes an interesting factor about the use of medications among the study's participants. The test group did not use any medications, while the "control" group did:

"That may be the choice we are highlighting,” David Nathan, M.D. told the New York Times. “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. Those are real choices.”

According to the NIH, heart disease is the number one cause of death for diabetics.

Source: The New York Times
Source: AARP.org

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