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David Kelley, M.D.

Lewis Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H.

Lewis Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H.

University of Pittsburgh Participating in NIH Landmark Study Examining Long-Term Effects of Weight Loss and Exercise in Type 2 Diabetes

PITTSBURGH, July 19, 2001 — The University of Pittsburgh is participating in the first long-term study to look at the effects of weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes.

Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), it is the largest study on the effects of weight loss interventions ever funded by the NIH. The study has a national budget of more than $180 million.

Called Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes), the 16-center, randomized clinical trial will examine the effects of a lifestyle intervention program designed to promote weight loss through reduced caloric intake and regular exercise in approximately 5,000 volunteers. Study participants will be followed for 11.5 years.

The study will examine how lifestyle interventions affect heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death in people with type 2 diabetes, the disease most affected by excess weight and obesity.

People who are between 45 and 75 years of age, have type 2 diabetes and are classified as overweight or obese are eligible to participate in the study. The study seeks equal numbers of men and women and expects that 33 percent of the participants will come from ethnic minority groups.

People who qualify for Look AHEAD will be assigned at random to either its Lifestyle Program or its Diabetes Support and Education Program. The Lifestyle Program is an intensive diet and exercise program designed to help participants lose at least seven to 10 percent of their initial weight in the first year of the study. Participants will be expected to adopt a program of regular exercise, primarily walking, with a goal of 25 minutes per day. As an alternative to the Lifestyle Program a comparison group will be enrolled in the Diabetes Support and Education Program. They will attend sessions on nutrition and physical activity and may attend support groups with other people who have diabetes.

During the course of the study, researchers will track cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes control and development of complications, general health and quality of life.

"We have an enormous opportunity to learn more about the role that long-term weight loss can play in improving the health of overweight people with type 2 diabetes," said David Kelley, M.D., professor of medicine in the division of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine and principal investigator for the Pittsburgh site. "We know short-term weight loss can benefit overweight people with diabetes, and we hope to gather data about the long-term effects of weight loss in this research study."

More than 50 percent of adults in the United States are considered overweight. The percent of obese Americans has risen from 16 to 22 percent in the last 15 years. Although reasons are not well understood, overweight affects minorities disproportionately.

Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, largely due to the number of Americans who are overweight or obese. According to the American Diabetes Association, the incidence of diabetes among middle-aged people, 40 to 74 years of age, increased 38 percent between 1976 and 1994. Today, 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. In addition, type 2 diabetes is associated with a two- to four-fold risk of coronary artery disease. Heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death in people with type 2 diabetes.

"Obesity in the United States is a serious risk factor for a number of diseases and conditions, especially diabetes," said Lewis Kuller, M.D., Dr.P.H., university professor and chairman of the department of epidemiology at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public Health and co-investigator in Pittsburgh. "This study will help us understand the effects of weight loss on diabetes and many other disorders."

People who meet criteria and wish to participate in the study should call 800-872-3653 or visit the study web site at

Other federal sponsors of Look AHEAD include the National, Heart, Lung and Blood Institute, the National Institute of Nursing Research, the National Center for Minority Health and Health Disparities, the Office of Research on Women's Health, all of the NIH and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

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