Clinical Trial Compares Leading-Edge Treatments for Obesity and Diabetes

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By Allison Goldfine, M.D.

Recent studies suggest that bariatric surgery (which promotes weight loss by restricting the body’s ability to take in and process nutrients) may lead to impressive resolutions or even cures for many with type 2 diabetes. During the past decade, there have also been many advances with new medications and innovative programs for intensive medical-diabetes and weight-management programs.

Joslin Diabetes Center and Brigham and Women’s Hospital are joining forces for a clinical trial, now recruiting volunteers in greater Boston, which will compare these two types of treatment.

I am leading this project along with Dr. David Lautz, director of Bariatric Surgery at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and instructor at Harvard Medical School. We have teamed up to compare the effectiveness of two popular types of bariatric surgery to an intensive lifestyle-modification and medical-management program called Weight Achievement and Intensive Treatment (Why WAIT) in obese patients with type 2 diabetes.

Known as SLIMM-T2D (Surgery or Lifestyle with Intensive Medical Management in the Treatment of Type 2 Diabetes), the study is examining whether patients test in the non-diabetic range one year after either the surgical or medical and weight-management interventions.

Previous observational studies estimate that 60 to 90 percent of bariatric-surgery patients who were obese and had type 2 diabetes were later able to maintain normal blood-glucose levels without medication.

“Weight-loss surgery has become a go-to option for obese patients with type 2 diabetes because of the successes seen,” says Dr. Lautz. “But we want to compare these two popular procedures with this particular lifestyle-modification and medical-management program, which is also very effective and utilizes significant medical advances, to determine more scientifically what the most effective option is, particularly for the less-overweight patient.”

Unlike common, simple diet and exercise plans that are often minimally effective, the Why WAIT lifestyle-modification program is a proven tool for weight management. The program was pioneered in 2005 at the Joslin by Dr. Osama Hamdy, assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School, who is collaborating in this research study.

The SLIMM-T2D study is the first to examine patients with relatively mild degrees of excess body weight, by including participants with a body-mass index in the range of 30 to 42. Bariatric surgery is currently approved for patients with a BMI greater than 35 and at least one other medical condition, such as diabetes. However, because the procedure appears to be so effective in treating type 2 diabetes, we are interested in studying whether it might also be effective in treating milder cases of obesity.

Eligible study participants will have type 2 diabetes and a BMI between 30 and 42. To attend an information session or to find out if you qualify for the study, contact Kerri Clancy, R.N., at 617-525-7388 or e-mail

Allison Goldfine, M.D., is head of clinical, behaviorial and outcomes research at the Joslin Diabetes Center and associate professor of medicine at the Harvard Medical School.

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2 Responses to Clinical Trial Compares Leading-Edge Treatments for Obesity and Diabetes

  1. Sally McNeely says:

    I am interested in being included in the clinical trial.

  2. Maureen McNeil-Stone says:

    I have diabetes II and a BMI of 35. I am concerned about all the people I am seeing now having bariatric surgery and then gaining the weight back. Also, I have had issues with vitamin deficiencies, so I could not imagine the problems once I had bariatric surgery. I take numerous supplements now. I lost 65 lbs and it made no difference at all for the fasting glucose test. It was still 130. I have since gained 26 lbs back. I get very frustrated at what nutritionists have told me and nondiabetics about diet, yet I do not read this on the ADA website. I will be very interested in seeing the results of the study. I am a retired RN, but I live in West Ossipee, NH.

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