Weight Management Saves Drug Costs in Type 2 Diabetes

A few days ago, I blogged about the important clinical improvement with weight loss in the ongoing Look AHEAD trial seen in patients with type 2 diabetes and knee pain.

A new paper from the same study, by Redmon and colleagues on behalf of the Look AHEAD investigators, published in this month’s edition of Diabetes Care, shows that intensive weight management can significantly improve diabetes control and decrease medication costs in patients with type 2 diabetes.

As regular readers may be well aware, Look AHEAD is a multicenter randomized controlled trial of 5,145 overweight or obese individuals with type 2 diabetes, aged 45-76 years.

The study compares the effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention involving group and individual meetings as well as meal replacements and in some cases pharmacotherapy to achieve and maintain weight loss through decreased caloric intake and increased physical activity vs. a diabetes support and education program.

At one year, participants randomised to the intensive lifestyle intervention had a significant reduction in their use of medications for diabetes, hypertension, and hyperlipidemia (average 3.1 drugs vs. 3.6 in the control group)

This resulted in approximately $30 monthly savings in the weight loss group.

The researchers conclude that weight management in patient with type 2 diabetes not only decreases cardiovascular risk factors but also leads to a reduction in medication use that translates into substantial savings.

It should, however, be noted that weight management does not come free and that there are costs to the lifestyle interventions for weigh loss. Nevertheless, given the multiple benefits of addressing excess weight, readers should have no doubt as to the cost-effectiveness of weight management in patients with type 2 diabetes.

Toronto, Ontario

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Redmon JB, Bertoni AG, Connelly S, Feeney PA, Glasser SP, Glick H, Greenway F, Hesson LA, Lawlor MS, Montez M, Montgomery B, & Look AHEAD Research Group (2010). Effect of the look AHEAD study intervention on medication use and related cost to treat cardiovascular disease risk factors in individuals with type 2 diabetes. Diabetes care, 33 (6), 1153-8 PMID: 20332353