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PLoS One. 2012;7(2):e32395. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0032395. Epub 2012 Feb 27.

Intentional weight loss and dose reductions of anti-diabetic medications--a retrospective cohort study.

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Department of Epidemiology, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland, United States of America.



Intentional weight loss, primarily by improving insulin resistance, is known to decrease the need for anti-diabetic medications. In this study, we assess the magnitude of weight loss that resulted in dose reductions or discontinuation of anti-diabetic medications in overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes (DM) undergoing weight loss treatment.


Case records of 50 overweight or obese patients with DM who successfully decreased dosage or discontinued diabetes medications after losing weight via attendance at two University-based, outpatient weight management centers were analyzed. Follow-up visits, weight reduction interventions, and decisions for dose reductions or discontinuation of medications were individualized to patient needs by the treating physician.


Mean starting BMI was 35 kg/m(2), mean age 53.4 years, and 58% were male. All 50 used at least one anti-diabetic medication (30 metformin, 39 sulfonylureas, 31 insulin, 21 sitagliptin) to manage blood sugar. Mean duration of follow-up was 30.2 months. Mean weight loss was 10.8 ± 4.1 kgs (11.1% of initial body weight ± 4.7%). 22/50 patients (44%) discontinued anti-diabetes medications (14 sulfonylureas [36%], 7 insulin [23%], 4 sitagliptin [19%]). The mean percentage weight loss achieved at the point of successful discontinuation of medication was 11.2% ± 3.5% (14% for sulphonylureas, 11% for insulin, and 7.1% for sitagliptin). Mean percentage weight loss of 5.6% ± 2.8% (5.1% for sulphonylureas, 4.3% for insulin, and 7.1% for sitagliptin) was required for initial dose reduction. For every 5% weight loss, predicted dose reductions were sulphonylureas, 39%; insulin, 42%; and any anti-diabetic medications, 49%.


Among overweight or obese patients with type 2 diabetes, intentional weight loss of 7-14% was typically required for full discontinuation of at least one anti-diabetic medication. Discontinuation of insulin was achieved at a mean weight reduction of 11% of initial body weight.

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