Effectiveness of lifestyle interventions for individuals with severe obesity and type 2 diabetes: results from the Look AHEAD trial

Diabetes Care. 2011 Oct;34(10):2152-7. doi: 10.2337/dc11-0874. Epub 2011 Aug 11.


Objective: Rates of severe obesity (BMI ≥40 kg/m(2)) are on the rise, and effective treatment options are needed. We examined the effect of an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) on weight loss, cardiovascular disease (CVD) risk, and program adherence in participants with type 2 diabetes who were severely obese compared with overweight (BMI 25 to <30 kg/m(2)), class I (BMI 30 to <35 kg/m(2)), and class II (BMI 35 to <40 kg/m(2)) obese participants.

Research design and methods: Participants in the Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD) trial were randomly assigned to ILI or diabetes support and education (DSE). DSE participants received a less intense educational intervention, whereas ILI participants received an intensive behavioral treatment to increase physical activity (PA) and reduce caloric intake. This article focuses on the 2,503 ILI participants (age 58.6 ± 6.8 years).

Results: At 1 year, severely obese participants in the ILI group lost -9.04 ± 7.6% of initial body weight, which was significantly greater (P < 0.05) than ILI participants who were overweight (-7.43 ± 5.6%) and comparable to class I (-8.72 ± 6.4%) and class II obese (-8.64 ± 7.4%) participants. All BMI groups had comparable improvements in fitness, PA, LDL cholesterol, triglycerides, blood pressure, fasting glucose, and HbA(1c) at 1 year. ILI treatment session attendance was excellent and did not differ among weight categories (severe obese 80% vs. others 83%; P = 0.43).

Conclusions: Severely obese participants in the ILI group had similar adherence, percentage of weight loss, and improvement in CVD risk compared with less obese participants. Behavioral weight loss programs should be considered an effective option for this population.

Trial registration: ClinicalTrials.gov NCT00017953.

Publication types

  • Randomized Controlled Trial
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Behavior Therapy
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / diet therapy*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Energy Intake / physiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Activity / physiology
  • Obesity / diet therapy*
  • Obesity / therapy*
  • Patient Education as Topic
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Weight Reduction Programs

Associated data

  • ClinicalTrials.gov/NCT00017953

Grant support