Diabetes and Weight Loss: Finding the Right Path

If you've got diabetes, losing weight can get you off insulin and other medications. Create a safe diabetes weight loss plan with the help of experts.

By Jeanie Lerche Davis • WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Brunilda Nazario, MD

There's no question about it: If you're overweight and have type 2 diabetes, dropping pounds lowers your blood sugar, improves your health, and helps you feel better

But before you start a diabetes weight loss plan, it's important to work closely with your doctor or diabetes educator - because while you're dieting, your blood sugar, insulin, and medications need special attention.

Make no mistake -- you're on the right path. "No matter how heavy you are, you will significantly lower your blood sugar if you lose some weight," says Cathy Nonas, MS, RD, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association and a professor at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City.

A National Institutes of Health study found that a combination of diet and exercise cuts the risk of developing diabetes by 58%. The study involved people who were overweight (average body mass index of 34) and who had high -- but not yet diabetic -- blood sugar levels.

"We know it's true -- that if someone with diabetes loses 5% to 10% of their weight, they will significantly reduce their blood sugar," Nonas tells WebMD.

"We see it all the time: people can get off their insulin and their medication," she says. "It's wonderful. It shows you how interwoven obesity and diabetes are."

Even losing 10 or 15 pounds has health benefits, says the American Diabetes Association. It can:

• Lower blood sugar

• Reduce blood pressure

• Improve cholesterol levels

• Lighten the stress on hips, knees, ankles, and feet

Plus, you'll probably have more energy, get around easier, and breathe easier.