Diabetes Medication Associated With Weight Gain


By: Jan Chait

Your doctor diagnoses you with type 2 diabetes and advises you to lose weight—and then gives you a prescription for a medication that is known to cause excessive weight gain.

What gives?

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania and Duke University have been studying why the drugs known as thiazolidinediones (TZDs), which are sold as Actos and Avandia, contribute to weight gain. They have discovered that the drugs cause fat cells to . . well, make fat. On the plus side, however, the researchers believe that TZDs basically “vacuum” fatty acids from the bloodstream. Because fatty acids are associated with insulin resistance, removing them from the bloodstream enhances insulin sensitivity.

Whether or not the “vacuum” effect is true, researchers believe that this recent data may help scientists discover new ways to minimize the side effects of TZDs while boosting their effectiveness.

—Nature Medicine (Online Version), September 23, 2002



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