Aims/hypothesis: It is generally thought difficult for type 2 diabetic patients to lose weight. We monitored changes in patients' weight during the first 5 years after diabetes diagnosis in relation to initiation of antidiabetic treatment.
Subjects and methods: Data from 711 newly diagnosed diabetic patients aged 40 or over were analysed with a random-effect linear-regression model. Patients were included consecutively from a well-defined patient list in general practice.
Results: In 245 patients whose only treatment was advice on diet, an initial weight loss of 6 to 7 kg was largely maintained over 5 years. Patients receiving metformin (n=86) or sulfonylureas (n=330) maintained an average weight loss of 2 to 4 kg that was dependent on age and sex. Patients' weight did not change on initiation of treatment with sulfonylureas or metformin. Over 5 years, median HbA(1c) increased from 7.0 to 7.8% (reference range 5.4-7.4%) in the diet-alone group. HbA(1c) was approximately 1 percentage point higher for most of the other treatment groups.
Conclusions/interpretation: In newly diagnosed type 2 diabetic patients, long-term weight loss was common and weight loss was not affected by sulfonylurea treatment. The measurements in the study are taken from treatment results achieved in the general population of diabetic patients, who are rarely treated in secondary care and seldom the subject of research; the results thus indicate that weight reduction is a practicable treatment in diabetic patients.