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More participants needed for UTHSCSA's landmark NIH diabetes study

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio's (UTHSCSA) Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) study, the first long-term study to look at the effects of weight loss in people with type 2 diabetes, seeks more participants. A total of 180 participants are actively involved in the study, but 150 more are needed by December 2003, said Steven M. Haffner, MD, the study's principal investigator.

"Recruitment for the Look AHEAD study has been successful, but we still need many more volunteers," Haffner said. "We want to encourage people to participate in this critical study."

Funded by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Look AHEAD is the largest study on the effects of weight-loss interventions ever funded by the NIH. Look AHEAD will examine how lifestyle changes affect heart attack, stroke and cardiovascular-related death in people with type 2 diabetes.

"We have a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the effects long-term weight loss can have on the overall health of overweight individuals with type 2 diabetes," Haffner said. "We know short-term weight loss can benefit overweight people with diabetes; we just don't have good data on the long-term effects."

Individuals who are between 55 and 75 years of age, have type 2 diabetes and are overweight or obese are encouraged to participate in this study. Hispanic Americans, American Indians, Pacific Islanders and Asian Americans are encouraged to participate in Look AHEAD because those groups are at a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, the major cause of death in people with type 2 diabetes.

Those who qualify for Look AHEAD will be randomly assigned to one of two groups, the lifestyle intervention or diabetes support and education. The lifestyle group is an intensive diet and exercise program designed to help participants gradually lose weight over a long period of time. Interventionists will work with participants to help them adopt a program of regular exercise and modified eating habits.

In the diabetes support and education program, participants will attend group sessions on nutrition, exercise and behavior modification. Volunteers will be asked to use the information that they learn at the sessions to try and lose weight on their own.

Individuals will be followed for up to 11.5 years. Researchers will study cardiovascular risk factors, diabetes control and complications, general health, quality of life and psychological outcomes.

Type 2 diabetes has reached epidemic proportions in the United States, largely due to the number of Americans who are overweight or obese. According to the American Diabetes Association, the incidence of diabetes among middle-aged people 40 to 74 years of age increased 38 percent between 1976 and 1994. Today, 80 percent of people with type 2 diabetes are overweight or obese. In addition, type 2 diabetes is associated with a two- to fourfold risk of coronary artery disease. Heart attacks and strokes are the leading causes of death in people with type 2 diabetes.

The University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio is one of 17 study sites in the United States. Individuals who meet the criteria and wish to participate in the study should call (210) 567-4799, or visit the study Web site,, for more information.

Contact: Maria G. Montez, project coordinator, (210) 567-4799 or Aileen Salinas, (210) 567-2570