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New study shows that diabetics can reduce chances of kidney failure by losing weight and come down to a 'normal' BMI

People suffering from diabetes face various unfortunate health issues such as pancreatitis, kidney failure, high blood sugar, and much more. But at least one of these problems can be avoided – kidney failure – how?

Reuters reports on how diabetics can avoid kidney failure.

New research shows that there is a good chance that diabetics can avoid or at least deter kidney failure by losing weight and more specifically come down to a normal, healthy weight and BMI.

Researchers said that eating healthy food, staying active daily and losing weight are already recommended for people with type 2 diabetes, and new data shows that these efforts may also delay or eliminate the possibility of development of chronic kidney disease.

Dr. Knowler, the study’s lead author told Reuters,

“About 35 percent of U.S. adults with diabetes have some degree of kidney disease, and diabetes is the major cause of kidney failure and dialysis. This result along with many others tends to reinforce the value of weight loss interventions and hopefully motivates people with diabetes to lose weight.”

How was the study conducted?

Dr. Knowler and his team of researchers reexamined information from an existing study of lifestyle modifications for people suffering from type 2 diabetes.

The former study incorporated more than 5,000 overweight or obese Americans with type 2 diabetes ages 45 to 76. They were divided into two groups. Fifty percent of them received diabetes support and education and the other half aimed to lose seven percent of their body weight through reduced calorie diets and more physical activity.

Many people were selected for this study between 2001 and 2004. For around the time of the time of a year, the weight-loss group met with dieticians on a regular basis. They also met with case managers and physical activity experts to stay on track toward their calorie, activity and weight-loss goals.

What were the results?

“At the one-year mark, the diet and exercise group had lost an average of 8.6 percent of their body weight, compared to less than one percent lost in the support-and-education group. Over the entire study period, people in the diet and exercise group were 31 percent less likely to develop very high risk chronic kidney disease, according to urine tests. The study’s primary aim was to investigate the power of weight loss to reduce the risk of heart problems or stroke, and as the researchers published previously, no benefit was seen there,” according to Reuters.

The first year of any weight loss program is considered the most important as that is the time where the subjects lose the most weight. The next few years are spent trying to maintain that loss. Dr. Knowler said, “The weight loss program did improve the outlook for kidney disease and many other aspects of health, including depression, knee pain, urinary incontinence and heart rate recovery after exercise.”

Physicians already do generally emphasize the importance of losing weight to diabetes patients. It also helps in controlling their blood sugar levels and prevents heart disease. The fact that it can also prevent kidney failure gives patients even more reason to take the recommendation very seriously.

Dr. Knowler told Reuters,

“In one sense it doesn’t add anything to existing recommendations because for overweight people, weight loss and increased activity are recommended already. But we don’t really put a lot of force behind that recommendation. For most people, telling them to lose weight and handing out some pamphlets is not enough. This study indicates that an intense program of major behavioral change, including counseling, group session and mutual reinforcement can work. Any approach that results in sustained weight loss should work just as well.”

Fox news also reported on the new study.

They noted that some experts did not endorse it. “Dr. de Zeeuw writes in an accompanying editorial in The Lancet Diabetes and Endocrinology that he found the kidney-health benefit with no heart benefit difficult to reconcile. Dr. de Zeeuw, also writes that using very high risk chronic kidney disease as the marker of success or failure in the study does not line up with what most trials like this would do if a drug were being tested instead of a lifestyle change,” according to Fox.

But he did admit that it had a benefit. He said that the results ‘reinforce the existing recommendation that people with type 2 diabetes should maintain a healthy weight’.

Most experts are endorsing the study’s findings.

Diabetic patients can avoid dialysis; decrease the general effects of diabetes and many other issues related to the disease by losing weight. The study shows that kidney failure is also included now. Experts are emphasizing the fact that doctors need to be explaining the importance of losing weight to their diabetic patients. 


Gerry Oginski
NY Medical Malpractice & Personal Injury Trial Lawyer