“Weight loss does not lower heart disease risk from type 2 diabetes.” Last week’s headline from a National Institutes of Health (NIH) study just didn’t make sense to me.
For several years, the NIH’s diabetes-focused branch (NIDDK) studied more than 5,000 overweight and obese people with type 2 diabetes across the United States—randomly assigning half of them to an “intensive lifestyle intervention” (diet and exercise) and half to a diabetes education program. As you’d expect, the intervention group lost more weight (8 percent after one year, maintaining about 5 percent over four years) as opposed to just 1 percent for the diabetes education group.
The intervention group did experience health bonuses—less sleep apnea, a reduced need for diabetes medications and maintaining more mobility and quality of life. But no drop in cardiovascular events, the biggest cause of death for type 2 diabetics, researcher said.
The bottom line? By the time people have type 2 diabetes, it may be too late to avoid its most serious negative effects.
Prevention: the real bottom line. For overweight and obese adults who are at high risk for diabetes, “modest weight loss has been shown to prevent or delay developing type 2 diabetes," said NIDDK director Dr. Griffin P. Rodgers.
Why doesn't diabetes prevention get more attention, especially in the supplement aisle?
My colleague Todd Runestad just wrote an article featuring 12 supplements diabetics choose—glucosamine not surprisingly at the top of the list, for people trying to address painful symptoms of the disease.
Still, the number of products on the shelf targeting prevention remains miniscule compared to the potential demand—a sleeping giant of sorts. Granted, structure-function claims are tricky with diabetes.
But when I look at the latest crop of Weight Loss supplements, I find that an increasing number of them would be at home in the Blood Sugar section, with ingredients such as "carb-blockers" sourced from brown seaweed and white kidney bean, chromium and glucomannan aimed at curbing cravings and satiety, and even "fat-burners" green tea extract and Dr. Oz's hottest pick, green coffee bean extract boast initial research showing blood-sugar benefits.
What do you see for the future of supplements for diabetes prevention? Please share in comments.