Trying to Lose Weight, Losing Weight, and 9-Year Mortality in Overweight U.S. Adults With Diabetes

  1. Edward W. Gregg, PHD,
  2. Robert B. Gerzoff, MS,
  3. Theodore J. Thompson, MS and
  4. David F. Williamson, PHD
  1. From the Division of Diabetes Translation, the National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta, Georgia
  1. Address correspondence and reprint requests to Edward W. Gregg, PhD, Division of Diabetes Translation Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 4770 Buford Hwy., N.E. Mailstop K-10, Atlanta, GA 30341. E-mail: edg7{at}


OBJECTIVE—The aim of this study was to examine the relationships between intention to lose weight, actual weight loss, and all-cause mortality among overweight individuals with diabetes.

RESEARCH DESIGN AND METHODS— We performed a prospective analysis among 1,401 overweight diabetic adults aged ≥35 years sampled in the National Health Interview Survey. The previous year intention to lose weight and weight change were assessed by self-report. Nine-year mortality rates were examined according to intent to lose weight and weight loss, which were adjusted for age, sex, education, ethnicity, smoking, initial body weight, and diabetes complications.

RESULTS—Individuals trying to lose weight had a 23% lower mortality rate (hazard rate ratio [HRR] 0.77, 95% CI 0.61–0.99) than those who reported not trying to lose weight. This association was as strong for those who failed to lose weight (0.72, 0.55–0.96) as for those who succeeded in losing weight (0.83, 0.63–1.08). Trying to lose weight was beneficial for overweight (BMI 25–30 kg/m2) individuals (0.62, 0.46–0.83) but not for obese (BMI >30) individuals (1.17, 0.72–1.92). Overall weight loss, without regard to intent, was associated with an increase of 22% (1.22, 0.99–1.50) in the mortality rate. This increase was largely explained by unintentional weight loss, which was associated with a 58% (1.58, 1.08–2.31) higher mortality rate.

CONCLUSIONS—Overweight diabetic adults trying to lose weight have a reduced risk of all-cause mortality, independent of whether they lose weight. Actual weight loss is associated with increased mortality only if the weight loss is unintentional.


  • A table elsewhere in this issue shows conventional and Système International (SI) units and conversion factors for many substances.

    • Accepted November 15, 2003.
    • Received August 13, 2003.
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