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Alcohol intake and diabetes

Alcohol intake and long-term weight loss for diabetics

Heavy drinkers in the ILI group were less likely to have clinically significant weight loss over the four years

A study from the University of Pennsylvania School of Nursing (Penn Nursing) suggests that alcohol consumption may attenuate long-term weight loss in adults with Type 2 diabetes. Although research shows that losing weight can help prevent or delay the onset of diabetes and achieving this often includes decreasing or eliminating calories from alcohol, few studies examine whether people who undergo weight loss treatment report changes in alcohol intake and whether alcohol influences their weight loss.

In their study, ‘Alcohol Intake and Weight Loss During Intensive Lifestyle Intervention for Adults with Overweight or Obesity and Diabetes’, published in Obesity, the researchers assessed whether alcohol consumption decreases during an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI) and whether alcohol consumption is associated with weight loss among participants with overweight or obesity and type 2 diabetes.

In total, 4,901 participants from the Action for Health in Diabetes (Look AHEAD) study, a randomised controlled trial that compared an ILI with a diabetes support and education (DSE) control, were included in the study. Mixed‐effects models were used to estimate the effect of the ILI on alcohol consumption and the influence of alcohol consumption on weight loss at year four.

ILI and DSE participants did not differ in changes in alcohol consumption. Alcohol intake was not associated with weight loss at year one of the ILI. ILI participants who abstained from alcohol lost 5.1%±0.3% of initial weight at year four compared with a significantly (p=0.04) smaller 2.4%±1.3% for consistent heavy drinkers. ILI participants who abstained from alcohol consumption over the four years lost 1.6%±0.5% more weight relative to individuals who drank alcohol at any time during the intervention (p=0.003). DSE participants did not differ in weight loss by alcohol consumption.

In summary, the results showed that participants in the ILI group who abstained from alcohol consumption over the four-year period lost more weight than those who drank any amount during the intervention. Results from the study also showed that heavy drinkers in the ILI group were less likely to have clinically significant weight loss over the four years.

"This study indicates that while alcohol consumption is not associated with short-term weight loss during a lifestyle intervention, it is associated with worse long-term weight loss in participants with overweight or obesity and Type 2 diabetes," said lead investigator, Dr Ariana M Chao, Assistant Professor of Nursing in the Department of Biobehavioral Health Sciences. "Patients with Type 2 diabetes who are trying to lose weight should be encouraged to limit alcohol consumption."

To access this paper, please click here

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