Type 2 diabetes study shows how weight loss can improve blood pressure

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Medication can be decreased when weight loss is achieved, too

It’s hard to overstate the benefits of weight loss. Dropping 5% of excess weight can decrease chances of cancer, boost good cholesterol and prevent Type 2 diabetes, according to WebMD.

A recent study of a University of Glasgow and Newcastle University-developed weight loss program focused on Type 2 diabetes. It was conducted for the Diabetes UK-funded DIabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DIRECT). The program has shown to be effective in putting Type 2 diabetes into remission. It also decreased blood pressure and lessened the need for antihypertensive medications.

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“We wanted to evaluate the safety and efficacy of withdrawing blood pressure medication when beginning our specially-designed weight-loss program for Type 2 diabetes, and we are really pleased with the results,” Mike Lean, professor of human nutrition at the University of Glasgow said in a press release. “Our study shows that, in addition to possible remission from Type 2 diabetes, there are other very important health benefits, as weight loss is a very effective treatment for hypertension and its associated serious health risks.”

The program involved 143 participants. It began with 12 weeks on a formula diet of low-calorie soups and shakes, which induced a 28-pound weight loss if completely followed. Participants stopped taking diabetes and blood pressure drugs in the beginning of the study. They only resumed taking them if blood sugar or blood pressure increased.

After the weight loss portion of the program, participants could select foods and eat wisely to maintain lost weight. Keeping a 33-pound weight loss led eight of 10 people to reverse Type 2 diabetes. They didn’t require diabetes medications for two years minimum. Of all participants, 78 people initially took medication for high blood pressure. Forty-four participants were on two or more medications. Average blood pressure steadily decreased as weight was lost. Blood pressure stayed low after the formula diet ended. It remained low at 12 and 24 months, too.

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Improvements also were seen for participants who were previously untreated for blood pressure. Decreases in blood pressure were seen to varying degrees. Although 28% had to add blood pressure medications back while dieting, 28% could stay medication-free for two years minimum.

“These important results show that the Diabetes UK-funded DiRECT low-calorie, weight management program not only helps some people put their Type 2 diabetes into remission but can also lower blood pressure, allowing some people to safely stop taking their blood pressure medication,” Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes U.K. said.

“We’re delighted to see more evidence of the life-changing impact of the DiRECT program on people’s health. This makes us even more determined to make sure as many people as possible have access to Type 2 diabetes remission services.”

The results were published in Diabetologia, the official journal of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.

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