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Fewer Calories Have Powerful Benefits

December 2, 2011

(Ivanhoe Newswire)– Diabetes and obesity – two words that are used together very frequently. One is a risk factor for the other. Diabetes affects more than 25 million people in the U.S, and obesity affects more than one-third. Fortunately, a new study, presented today at the annual meeting of the Radiological Society of North America, found that a low-calorie diet eliminates insulin dependence and leads to improved heart function in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.

“Our results show that 16 weeks of caloric restriction improved heart function in these patients. More importantly, despite regain of weight, these beneficial cardiovascular effects were persistent over the long term,” said lead study author Sebastian Hammer, M.D., Ph.D., from the Department of Radiology at Leiden University Medical Center in the Netherlands.

The researchers set out to determine the long-term effects of initial weight loss induced by caloric restriction on pericardial fat and cardiac function in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.

Pericardial fat is fatty tissue around the heart that can be detrimental to cardiac function. It can be especially harmful in people with metabolic disease, which is common in those with diabetes or suffering from obesity.

“Lifestyle interventions may have more powerful beneficial cardiac effects than medication in these patients,” Hammer was quoted as saying.

Using cardiac MRI, the researchers analyzed cardiac function and pericardial fat in 15 patients – including seven men and eight women – with type 2 diabetes. They were analyzed before and after four months of a diet consisting of 500 calories daily. Changes in body mass index were also measured.

Caloric restriction resulted in a decrease in BMI from 35.3 to 27.5 over four months. Pericardial fat decreased from 39 ml to 31 ml, and E/A ratio (a measure of diastolic heart function, improved from 0.96 to 1.2.

After an additional 14 months of follow-up on a regular diet BMI increase to 31.7, but pericardial fat only increased slightly to 32 ml. E/A ration after follow-up was 1.06.

“It is striking to see how relatively simple intervention of a very low calorie diet effectively cures type 2 diabetes mellitus. Moreover, these effects are long term, illustrating the potential of this method,” Hammer was quoted as saying.

The findings also stress the importance of including imaging strategies in these types of therapy regimens, Hammer pointed out.

“MRI clearly showed all the changes in fat compartments, structural changes in the heart and improvements in diastolic function, making it a very effective method of quantifying the effects of metabolic interventions,” he was quoted as saying.

Although the results are promising, not all patients are eligible for the therapy. Patients should consult with their doctors before embarking on any type of reduced calorie diet.

“It is of utmost importance to follow such a complicated intervention under strict medial supervision,” Hammer concluded, “especially as patients may be able to stop all anti-diabetic therapy from day one.”

SOURCE: Radiological Society of North America, December 2011




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