Diabetes Diagnosis Opens a Window of Opportunity for Weight Loss

When patients are initially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes, clinicians usually recommend several lifestyle changes, including weight loss. Few studies have looked at weight changes in patients with type 2 diabetes around initial diagnosis, although it's clear that it is more difficult for patients with diabetes to lose weight than it is for others.

When patients are initially diagnosed with type 2 diabetes (T2DM), clinicians usually recommend several lifestyle changes, including weight loss. Few studies have looked at weight changes in patients with type 2 diabetes around initial diagnosis, although it’s clear that it is more difficult for patients with diabetes to lose weight than it is for others.

A team of Danish researchers, curious about short- and long-term weigh loss in the recently diagnosed diabetic patient, conducted a large study that looks at weight history before diabetes diagnosis and in the following 6 years. This study, published in the on-line journal PloS One, indicated that most patients follow clinical recommendations and lose weight.

This clinical cohort study enrolled 885 patients aged 40 years or older who were newly diagnosed with T2DM. They asked patients to complete a past weight history that described their weights 1 year and 10 years before diagnosis, and at the age of 20. They weighed patients at diagnosis and at the 6-year follow up examination.

Median age at diagnosis was 63 years, and median body weight was 80 kg (176 lbs) 10 years before diagnosis, 85 kg (187 lbs) 1 year before diagnosis, 82 kg (181 lbs) at diagnosis, and 80 kg (176 lbs) at 6-year follow up.

Each kg of weight gain during the year preceding diagnosis was associated with a weight loss of 0.20 kg (0.44 lbs) during follow up.

Weight at age 20 and the weight change during the 10 years before diagnosis did not predict weight change after diagnosis.

The researchers noted that this study population tended to gain weight until shortly before diagnoses, and continuously lose weight afterwards. Studies have demonstrated this pattern in Pima Indians also. Older patients tended to lose more weight than younger patients, and patients will higher BMI at diagnosis also lost more weight than younger patients. The researchers wrote, “The diabetes diagnosis seems to be a window of opportunity for obtaining lasting weight loss irrespective of previous long-term weight changes.”