Just 5% Weight Loss Lowers Diabetes Risk in Obese Patients

Obese patients who are able to lose 5% of their bodyweight may lower their risk for type 2 diabetes.

Obese patients who are able to lose 5% of their bodyweight may lower their risk for type 2 diabetes.

Health care professionals often recommend a 5% to 10% weight-loss target for patients who are obese, but the differences between the 2 percentages and the effects of more diet-related weight loss on body composition, adipose tissue biology, and cardiometabolic health outcomes has been relatively unknown.

Pharmacists can help obese patients strive for at least 5% weight loss by providing simple encouragement and refraining from criticism, study author Samuel Klein, MD, told Pharmacy Times.

“Pharmacists who are providing weight-loss medications to patients with obesity can reinforce the beneficial effects of a 5% weight loss,” Dr. Klein said.

Dr. Klein and his fellow researchers from Washington University School of Medicine examined 40 obese patients who were instructed to either maintain their current weight or cut back on their diet to lose weight.

Nineteen subjects achieved at least 5% weight loss, including 9 patients who lost between 10% and 15% of their bodyweight. The researchers found that those who lost just 5% of their bodyweight significantly decreased the plasma concentrations of some risk factors for cardiometabolic disease, like glucose, triglyceride, alanine transaminase, and leptin.

Some other benefits gleaned from moderate weight loss included decreased total body fat, including intra-abdominal and liver fat; decreased systolic blood pressure; and increased insulin sensitivity in liver, muscle, and fat tissues, Dr. Klein said. Weight loss beyond the initial 5% may offer more improvement in these outcomes and cause progressive beneficial changes in adipose tissue biology by altering the expression of genes involved in lipid metabolism, tissue remodeling, and oxidative stress.

The researchers also found that weight loss in the 11% to 16% range can lead to increases in insulin sensitivity in muscle, as well.

“A pharmacist can check on obesity medication side effects on a regular basis when patients come back for refills, and they can check to make sure patients being treated with obesity medications do not have medical contraindications or other medication-related contraindications for taking the prescribed drug,” Dr. Klein noted.

These findings were published in Cell Metabolism.