"If you lose weight after diagnosis, you can achieve some long-term benefits in terms of blood pressure and glycemic control that extend even beyond the point at which you regain weight," said Gregory A. Nichols, co-author the research published online Aug. 12 in the journal
The research team in Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research in Portland, Ore., looked at electronic medical records, spanning 1997 to 2002, for 2,574 patients aged between 21 and 75 who had been recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. The participants were grouped into weight loss categories and followed for four years.
While most lost no weight, about 300 managed to shed more than 20 pounds in the months after diagnosis.
Four years later, members of the weight-loss group had significantly better control of their blood pressure and blood sugar than the other study volunteers, even though their weight loss was only temporary reversing after about 18 months. Nearly all had returned to their starting weight by the end of the study.
"It might be that your body remembers a healthy state, that if you can get your weight down to a certain point, your body remembers that," said Gregory Nichols, a researcher at the Kaiser Permanente Center for Health Research.
The researchers however said they don't know what happens after the four-year mark, and they don't have an answer for why the benefit was sustained. "It's entirely possible that one of the explanations here is that if we looked at 15 years, we wouldn't find that benefit continuing," Nichols said.