Comparison of Group Medical Visits Combined With Intensive Weight Management vs Group Medical Visits Alone for Glycemia in Patients With Type 2 Diabetes: A Noninferiority Randomized Clinical Trial

JAMA Intern Med. 2020 Jan 1;180(1):70-79. doi: 10.1001/jamainternmed.2019.4802.


Importance: Traditionally, group medical visits (GMVs) for persons with diabetes improved glycemia by intensifying medications, which infrequently led to weight loss. Incorporating GMVs with intensive dietary change could enable weight loss and improve glycemia while decreasing medication intensity.

Objective: To examine whether a program of GMVs combined with intensive weight management (WM) is noninferior to GMVs alone for change in glycated hemoglobin (HbA1c) level at 48 weeks (prespecified margin of 0.5%) and superior to GMVs alone for hypoglycemic events, diabetes medication intensity, and weight loss.

Design, setting, and participants: This randomized clinical trial identified via the electronic medical record 2814 outpatients with type 2 diabetes, uncontrolled HbA1c, and body mass index (BMI; calculated as weight in kilograms divided by height in meters squared) of 27 or higher from Veterans Affairs Medical Center clinics in Durham and Greenville, North Carolina. Between January 12, 2015, and May 30, 2017, 263 outpatients started the intervention.

Interventions: Participants randomized to the GMV group (n = 136) received counseling about diabetes-related topics with medication optimization every 4 weeks for 16 weeks, then every 8 weeks (9 visits). Participants randomized to the WM/GMV group (n = 127) received low-carbohydrate diet counseling with baseline medication reduction and subsequent medication optimization every 2 weeks for 16 weeks followed by an abbreviated GMV intervention every 8 weeks (13 visits).

Main outcomes and measures: Outcomes included HbA1c level, hypoglycemic events, diabetes medication effect score, and weight at 48 weeks analyzed using hierarchical generalized mixed models to account for clustering within group sessions.

Results: Among 263 participants (mean [SD] age, 60.7 [8.2] years; 235 [89.4%] men; 143 [54.4%] black), baseline HbA1c level was 9.1% (1.3%) and BMI was 35.3 (5.1). At 48 weeks, HbA1c level was improved in both study arms (8.2% in the WM/GMV arm and 8.3% in the GMV arm; mean difference, -0.1%; 95% CI, -0.5% to 0.2%; upper 95% CI, <0.5% threshold; P = .44). The WM/GMV arm had lower diabetes medication use (mean difference in medication effect score, -0.5; 95% CI, -0.6 to -0.3; P < .001) and greater weight loss (mean difference, -3.7 kg; 95% CI, -5.5 to -1.9 kg; P < .001) than did the GMV arm at 48 weeks and approximately 50% fewer hypoglycemic events (incidence rate ratio, 0.49; 95% CI, 0.27 to 0.71; P < .001) during the 48-week period.

Conclusions and relevance: In GMVs for diabetes, addition of WM using a low-carbohydrate diet was noninferior for lowering HbA1c levels compared with conventional medication management and showed advantages in other clinically important outcomes.

Trial registration: identifier: NCT01973972.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Blood Glucose / metabolism*
  • Body Mass Index
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / blood
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / therapy*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Hypoglycemic Agents / therapeutic use*
  • Life Style*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Weight Loss*


  • Blood Glucose
  • Hypoglycemic Agents

Associated data