Although this proposition currently has formal backing from just the four authors of the article published in the Lancet, their recommendation to elevate substantial weight loss to the front line of management for many patients with type 2 diabetes drew quick support from leaders of several diabetes organizations, albeit with some caveats.
“Our main message is that treatment of obesity should be the future of diabetes treatment,” summed up Ildiko Lingvay, MD, lead author of the new review and proposal, at the annual meeting of the European Association for the Study of Diabetes.
“Right now, a relatively small percentage of clinicians [who treat patients with type 2 diabetes] address obesity and know how to treat it. That has to change. Every clinician who treats diabetes needs to know how to treat obesity,” said Dr. Lingvay, a professor in the division of endocrinology at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center, Dallas.
This requires a sea change in the way clinicians approach treating patients with type 2 diabetes, which until now has generally involved “exclusive focus on glycemic control,” the authors wrote. “Practice management should refocus to effectively incorporate weight management to treat patients with type 2 diabetes.”
Successfully implementing their new, proposed change in focus “will take fundamental change,” noted Dr. Lingvay, who expressed hope that international guidelines will soon endorse this approach, an action that would be “a huge step in the right direction.”
Target weight-loss drugs to the right patients.
Initial reactions from representatives of several diabetes and obesity groups suggested that official endorsements of this management strategy for at least a subset of patients with type 2 diabetes may be forthcoming.
“The American Diabetes Association’s standards of care is aligned with this approach in focusing on obesity as a target of management in people with type 2 diabetes,” commented Nuha A. El Sayed, MD, vice president for health care improvement for the ADA. An “area of discussion” is the specific weight-loss target of at least 15%, because patients benefit from more modest weight losses of 5%-7%, and a target loss of 15% may not be achievable for some patients, she noted in a statement.
The ADA’s leadership and its professional practice committee will “carefully consider” the new, published proposal, added Dr. El Sayed, a diabetologist at the Joslin Diabetes Center in Boston.
Similar caution over generalizability of the 15% loss target came from Stefano Del Prato, MD, president of the European Society for the Study of Diabetes.
“Not everyone responds to the same extent” to the newest pharmaceuticals for facilitating weight loss, such as the glucagonlike peptide-1 receptor agonists, so the ideal would be to try to “identify patients who respond better to weight loss and can lose at least 15% of their weight. We need to improve our ability to identify patients who respond better,” said Dr. Del Prato, a professor of endocrinology and metabolism at the University of Pisa (Italy).
Despite this, he agreed in an interview that “a significant reduction in body weight should be seen as a target for treatment of type 2 diabetes,”
“Appropriate training for obesity management is essential for those working on type 2 diabetes prevention or management,” commented Jason C.G. Halford, PhD, a professor of biological psychology at the University Of Leeds (England), and president of the European Association for the Study of Obesity.
For some patients with type 2 diabetes “losing 10%-15% of body weight can mean their diabetes goes into remission,” and “losing even a small amount of weight can be life changing, it can help people better manage their blood sugars and blood pressure, and reduce their risk for developing diabetes complications like heart disease and sight loss,” commented Lucy Chambers, PhD, head of research communications for Diabetes UK.