A recent study published in the May issue of Epidemiology has led its authors to conclude that even losing as little as two pounds per year can significantly reduce an individual’s chance of developing type 2 diabetes. Although obesity is widely recognized as a risk factor for developing type 2 diabetes, so far there has been little evidence to prove that the converse is true.
The study’s 618 subjects, all of them between 30 and 50 years of age and with a body-mass index greater than the recommended maximum of 27, were weighed every two years for 16 years. Compared to a control group, who maintained a stable weight over the course of the study, those who lost weight had a 37 percent lower chance of developing type 2 diabetes.
The study concluded that the amount of weight loss needed to substantially reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes was small. Although subjects who lost more than 15 pounds over 16 years had a lower relative risk than those who lost between 8.1 and 15 pounds, even the loss of one to two pounds a year brought subjects’ relative diabetes risk down to 67 percent. The healthy effects of losing weight were especially pronounced in the most obese participants.