Q: I'm 60 pounds overweight and have type 2 diabetes. I want to get healthier, but I just read that it doesn't matter what I do - I'm still headed for heart problems. Is it a waste to diet and exercise?
DARLENE F., Charlotte, N.C.
A: What you read was about the Look AHEAD trial. Headlines like "ADA: Lifestyle Changes Don't Protect Diabetic Heart" and "Weight Loss Fails To Prevent Heart Attacks For Diabetics In Study" make it sound like taking care of yourself is useless. The headlines could not be more WRONG.
It matters a great deal if you diet, exercise, lose weight, decrease your waist size and take your meds so you keep blood sugar levels as close to normal as possible. That slashes your risk for diabetic complications, such as amputation, blindness, kidney disease and stroke, not to mention other problems like cancer, depression and dementia. The lifestyle intervention programs at Dr. Mike's Cleveland Clinic Wellness Center have seen powerful results from upgrading diet and increasing exercise: 90 percent of participants lose weight and achieve better glucose control; 60 percent take fewer medications; and 10 percent see a reversal in their diagnosis of diabetes! That makes them much healthier - and happier.
The Look AHEAD study may have been comparing two groups of obese participants with type 2 diabetes who reduced (or failed to reduce) the risk of heart disease equally. The so-called control group - some of whom were taking statins and all of whom received counseling about managing diabetes - may have taken that advice to heart. They had results that were almost parallel to the "intervention group," who were put on an upgraded diet and exercise routine and aimed to lose weight. In short, everybody benefited a little.
Mehmet Oz, M.D., is host of "The Dr. Oz Show," and Mike Roizen, M.D., is chief medical officer at the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute. Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.