Limited Evidence Supports Benefits of Commercial Weight Loss Programs in Diabetics

More work is need to determine the impact of weight loss programs in lowering blood sugar concentrations in type 2 diabetes.

Few weight loss programs have been found to benefit patients with diabetes, a study published in Obesity Reviews found.

Researchers sought to determine whether these programs had a positive effect on blood sugar concentrations in type 2 diabetes. The study analyzed randomized clinical studies that evaluated the impact of different commercial weight loss programs on the blood sugar of overweight and obese people, with or without type 2 diabetes, that lasted a minimum of 12 weeks.

Only 18 studies met the criteria, and only a few focused primarily on patients with type 2 diabetes. There were 10 weight loss programs cited in the studies.

The results of the study found that across all the studies, which included a total of 764 type 2 diabetes patients, the Jenny Craig program reduced hemoglobin A1c after 12 months more than weight loss counseling alone. Additionally, Nutrisystem and Optifast reduced hemoglobin A1c after 6 months more than counseling alone.

Few studies were found to evaluate the effect of the commercial weight loss programs on blood sugar in 2428 people without type 2 diabetes. The 6 programs that did had no substantial reductions.

Authors noted that there may be other commercial programs that have a positive effect on blood sugar for patients with or without type 2 diabetes, but there are few studies that have rigorously evaluated the glycemic effects for physicians to recommend these programs as a whole.

“A few of these programs may be a viable option for improving blood sugar control in patients with type 2 diabetes and those at risk for the disease, but we need more gold-standard studies to make that claim,” said study lead Zoobia Chaudhry, MBBS, MD.