UW News

February 7, 2002

Decade-long type 2 diabetes trial begins

Many research studies are looking for people willing to have some blood drawn once or twice and perhaps fill out a questionnaire. Others ask people to use a new medication for a few months. Some studies follow their participants for more than a year.

But a new study on type 2 diabetes and weight loss being conducted in Seattle and 15 other centers in the nation needs people willing to sign up for 10 years, or even a year longer for early enrollees. Researchers believe it will take that long to really understand the long-term effects of weight loss, both benefits and risks, in people with type 2 diabetes. Because strokes and heart attacks are so common as these people grow older and such a threat to health and life, those rates will be a particular focus of the study. The study will enroll 5,000 people in all.

The Seattle part of the study is being run by the Diabetes Research Group, a collaborative effort of the UW and VA, based at the Seattle Veterans Affairs medical center. Dr. Steven Kahn, professor of medicine, is the principal investigator for the Seattle site, where investigators hope to enroll more than 300 study participants.

Type 1 diabetes, also called insulin-dependent diabetes mellitus, is an autoimmune disorder, caused when the islet cells of the pancreas, which produce insulin, are destroyed by the body’s own immune system. The disease is most often diagnosed in older children or young adults.

Type 2 diabetes, also called adult-onset diabetes, tends to develop more gradually. Either the body is not producing enough insulin for its needs or is not able to effectively use the insulin produced. Most people who develop type 2 diabetes are over 40 and overweight.

The new study, called Look AHEAD (Action for Health in Diabetes) and sponsored by the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive Diseases, is looking for volunteers, both men and women, between the ages of 45 and 75 who are overweight and have been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes. If accepted for the study, they will be randomly assigned to one of two groups — a Lifestyle Intervention group or a Diabetes Support and Education group.

People assigned to the Lifestyle Intervention group will see their regular physicians for primary care and diabetes management. During the first six months, they will attend one-hour meetings every week. During the next six months, there will be monthly meetings, some individual sessions and some group sessions. For the next three years, monthly meetings with a dietician are scheduled. There will also be monthly follow-up calls or mailings and group classes will be offered.

The second group, those assigned to the Diabetes Support and Education part of the study, eill be invited to attend health education and support programs three times a year for at least four years. The number of programs may decrease after that, but some programs will be offered until the end of the study.

There is no cost to participate. People interested in participating can find more information at http://www.LookAHEADstudy.org. To reach the local research coordinators, call 206-764-2768 or send e-mail to uwdpp@u.washington.edu.