Type 2 diabetes: Will diet and exercise improve heart health?

People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have serious heart disease.

There are plenty of good reasons to exercise and keep your weight where it should be, but a new study shows it doesn’t always lead to reduced heart disease risk for people with Type 2 diabetes. People with Type 2 diabetes are twice as likely to have serious heart disease.

The study, which was published in the New England Journal of Medicine, followed more than 5,000 people with Type 2 diabetes for several years. Half the group ate a low-calorie diet and exercised 175 minutes a week. The other group met three times a year to discuss the benefits of dieting and exercise but followed no specific plan.

The group on the diet-and-exercise plan did lose more weight — an average of 14 pounds versus 10 pounds — but their risk for heart attack and stroke was no lower than the risk for those who did nothing.

While that’s disappointing, the American Diabetes Association says there are other good reasons for people with the condition to exercise and lose weight, such as preventing or delaying eye problems and kidney failure. One of the researchers said it’s possible that the weight loss in either group wasn’t enough to make a difference.

“Maybe you need larger weight losses,” said study author Rena Wing. Studies have shown that bariatric surgery, which often leads to more dramatic weight loss, may have more pronounced benefits for people with Type 2 diabetes. Wing cautioned, however, that while surgical weight loss results in better overall health, “it also has more risks.”


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