Background: Lifestyle interventions produce short-term improvements in glycemia and cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes mellitus, but no long-term data are available. We examined the effects of lifestyle intervention on changes in weight, fitness, and CVD risk factors during a 4-year study.
Methods: The Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) trial is a multicenter randomized clinical trial comparing the effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) and diabetes support and education (DSE; the control group) on the incidence of major CVD events in 5145 overweight or obese individuals (59.5% female; mean age, 58.7 years) with type 2 diabetes mellitus. More than 93% of participants provided outcomes data at each annual assessment.
Results: Averaged across 4 years, ILI participants had a greater percentage of weight loss than DSE participants (-6.15% vs -0.88%; P < .001) and greater improvements in treadmill fitness (12.74% vs 1.96%; P < .001), hemoglobin A(1c) level (-0.36% vs -0.09%; P < .001), systolic (-5.33 vs -2.97 mm Hg; P < .001) and diastolic (-2.92 vs -2.48 mm Hg; P = .01) blood pressure, and levels of high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (3.67 vs 1.97 mg/dL; P < .001) and triglycerides (-25.56 vs -19.75 mg/dL; P < .001). Reductions in low-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels were greater in DSE than ILI participants (-11.27 vs -12.84 mg/dL; P = .009) owing to greater use of medications to lower lipid levels in the DSE group. At 4 years, ILI participants maintained greater improvements than DSE participants in weight, fitness, hemoglobin A(1c) levels, systolic blood pressure, and high-density lipoprotein cholesterol levels.
Conclusions: Intensive lifestyle intervention can produce sustained weight loss and improvements in fitness, glycemic control, and CVD risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Whether these differences in risk factors translate to reduction in CVD events will ultimately be addressed by the Look AHEAD trial.
Trial registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT00017953.