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Summary

Background

The obesity epidemic is driving the increased prevalence of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM), and the vast majority of patients with T2DM are overweight or obese. Excess body weight is associated with the risk of cardiometabolic complications, which are major causes of morbidity and mortality in T2DM.

Aims

To review evidence about effects of weight loss in pre-diabetes and established T2DM.

Results

In prediabetes, weight loss has been shown to delay the onset or decrease the risk of T2DM, while in established T2DM weight loss has been shown to improve glycaemic control, with severe calorie restriction even reversing the progression of T2DM. Observational studies support the reduction in cardiovascular risk factors following weight loss in patients with T2DM. However, data from the randomised Look AHEAD trial revealed intensive weight loss interventions did not reduce the rate of cardiovascular events in overweight or obese adults with T2DM, and secondary analyses of other large cardiovascular outcomes trials have also been inconclusive. However, besides cardiovascular risk, other documented benefits of weight loss in T2DM include improvements in quality of life, mobility, and physical and sexual function.

Conclusions

Physicians should encourage weight loss in all overweight patients with or at risk of T2DM, and should consider the impact on weight when choosing the most appropriate glucose-lowering therapies for these patients.