Look AHEAD Study Halted Due to Few Strokes and Heart Attacks

October 28, 2012 — Look AHEAD, one of the largest obesity outcomes studies funded by NIH, has followed more than 5,000 people for up to eleven years. Half of participants were given intensive lifestyle intervention to lose weight. The other half received general support in the form of diabetes education and doctor visits. Participants in the intense intervention half lost about 8% of their body weight at the end of a year. Those in the general support half lost 1%.

While both groups had fewer cardiovascular events than researchers expected, there was not a significant difference in the intervention arm versus the control arm, so the NIH shut down this part of the study. The study has shown that losing weight had a positive effect on sleep apnea, a reduced need for need for diabetes medicine, physical mobility, and quality of life among those with excess weight or obesity and type 2 diabetes. But the with a low rate of cardiovascular events, the study did not show a reduction in those events. Obesity experts have been quick to point out that care should be taken to interpret this complex study correctly, since it documented many positive effects for people with type 2 diabetes and excess weight.

You can read the press release from the National Institutes of Health here. You can read The Obesity Society’s take on the news here.