World Diabetes Day: The 10% Factor

by | Nov 13, 2012

Do you have Type 2 diabetes? If you’re overweight, losing only 10% of your weight could make a major contribution to your blood glucose levels and improving the quality of your long-term health.

eat a rainbow

There’s good evidence to suggest that a moderate weight loss of 5–10% of body weight will have a major impact on the long-term complications of obesity. Weight reductions of 5-10 kg have been shown to improve back and joint pain, and symptoms of breathlessness.


The science bit

The UK Prospective Diabetes Study (UKPDS), published in the Lancet in 1998, was carried out over 20 years on over 5000 people with type 2 diabetes. The results showed that weight loss of 10kg in people who weighed 100kg could achieve greater reductions in HBA1C (the longer term predictor of your blood glucose control; lower HBA1C is better). They also had better fasting blood glucose levels than if they’d been treated with the glucose lowering drug metformin. The weight loss also reduced the need for blood pressure and lipid-lowering drug treatment (drugs to lower blood cholesterol and triglyceride) in people with diabetes.

A comprehensive review of studies on 10% or less weight reduction was published in the International Journal of Obesity in 1992.  The studies indicated that 10% weight loss in obese people with non-insulin dependent diabetes (Type 2 diabetes) appeared to improve blood glucose control, reduce blood pressure, and reduce cholesterol levels. Modest weight reduction also appeared to increase length of life.

Even 5% loss of body weight can improve insulin action, decrease fasting blood glucose concentrations, and reduce the need for diabetes medications. Data from the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP) published in the New England Journal of Medicine in 2002 demonstrated that weight loss (7% of weight loss in the first year) and increased physical activity (150 min of brisk walking per week) was nearly twice as effective as drug treatment with metformin in preventing diabetes in people who already had raised blood glucose levels.


Why weight?

In short, if you move from 100 kg to 90 kg or lose 10% of your body weight, you could enjoy the following benefits:

  • Improved blood glucose levels
  • Lower blood cholesterol and other blood fats
  • Reduced blood pressure
  • An improvement in back and joint pain
  • Reduced risk of angina
  • Less breathlessness
  • Improved sleep
  • Improved self esteem and confidence

For many people, losing 10% of your weight could also help to reduce your dosage of medication.  Might be time for a chat with your dietitian or diabetes specialist team? More weight loss tips.

Check out Azmina’s Diabetes Weight Loss Diet with Antony Worrall Thompson and her Little Black Dress Diet on ITV’s Lorraine Show, launched 12 Nov 2012.

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