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Long-Term Weight Loss Cuts Diabetes-Related Brain Changes

10-year weight loss intervention tied to lower white matter hyperintensity volume

brain scan

MONDAY, April 4, 2016 (HealthDay News) -- A long-term weight loss intervention may reduce the impact of diabetes on brain structure, according to a study published online March 29 in Diabetes Care.

Mark A. Espeland, Ph.D., from the Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, N.C., and colleagues assessed whether participation in a successful 10-year lifestyle intervention was associated with better profiles of brain structure in patients with type 2 diabetes. Participants in the Action for Health in Diabetes trial were overweight or obese, aged 45 to 76 years, and received either a 10-year lifestyle intervention that included counseling or diabetes support and education in group sessions (control group). Brain imaging and cognitive tests occurred after the intervention.

The researchers found that the groups had similar total brain and hippocampus volumes. The intervention group had mean white matter hyperintensity volume 28 percent lower than the control group (P = 0.02), while mean ventricle volume was 9 percent lower (P = 0.04). There were no differences noted in cognitive function between the groups.

"Long-term weight loss intervention may reduce the adverse impact of diabetes on brain structure," the authors write. "Determining whether this eventually delays cognitive decline and impairment requires further research."

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