Rena Wing, co-author of the study and professor of psychiatry and human behaviour at The Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University, told Reuters: “Since many people lose weight and regain some (or all) of it, it is important to know whether this pattern leads to better or worse outcomes than never losing weight.
“Our data shows no negative effects of losing weight and regaining on (cardiovascular disease) outcomes. It is best to lose weight and maintain it. However, fear of regaining should not stop people with diabetes from trying to lose weight.
“Weight loss reduces adipose tissue and improves insulin sensitivity. These changes lead to reductions in inflammation and improvement in (cardiovascular disease) risk factors.”
Researchers used data from more than 1,400 overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetes during their study, with some people undergoing intensive diet and exercise changes and others having less intensive lifestyle changes.
The intensive lifestyle participants aimed to do just under three hours (175 minutes) of moderate-intensity physical activity every week in an attempt to lose seven per cent of their body weight.
Progress of each adult was measured over the first four years of the study, with scientists splitting them into six categories based on their weight loss.
The groups were: no weight loss, moderate weight loss, large weight loss, moderate weight loss fully regained by year four, large weight loss fully regained by year four and large weight loss only partly regained.
The researchers discovered those who lost the largest amount of weight had better HbA1c levels than the adults who lost a smaller amount or none at all, even when the weight loss group had regained all their body weight.
Concerns were made about the accuracy of the study, as conclusions were made over four years and didn’t show the effects of weight loss from a longer period.
Professor Abdul G. Dulloo, from the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, told Reuters: “Furthermore, we seem to be dealing here with one cycle of weight loss/regain, and how multiple phases of weight loss/regain (i.e. multiple weight cycling) affects these risks for cardiovascular disease remains uncertain.”
The study was published in Diabetes Care.