A commercial diet plan that includes prepackaged foods, menu plans and access to counselors was better at helping people with type 2 diabetes shed pounds than a typical diet, according to a new study.
What's more, people who took part in the commercial diet plan had better blood sugar control after a year.
"I think this should be a huge ray of hope for people that lifestyle changes are possible and there are some things that don't cost an arm and a leg," Cheryl Rock told Reuters Health. She is the study's lead author from the University of California, San Diego.
Jenny Craig, the diet program used in the new study, funded the research and consulted with researchers during the development of the study. The company had no part in the collection, analysis and publication of the data in the journal Diabetes Care.
Over one-third of U.S. adults are obese, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Obesity is linked to a number of health conditions, including heart disease, stroke and type 2 diabetes.
Type 2 diabetes, sometimes referred to as adult-onset diabetes, is when the body's cells are resistant to insulin or the body doesn't make enough of the hormone, so glucose remains in the bloodstream and can climb to dangerously high levels. Insulin gives glucose - or blood sugar - access to the body's cells to be used as fuel.
Past research has found that lifestyle interventions, including diet and exercise, can help people better manage their blood sugar and control risk factors for heart disease, write the researchers.
The Jenny Craig plan had been found to help people lose about 8 percent of their body weight after two years in a previous study. The plan had not been tested among people with type 2 diabetes, however.
The researchers recruited 227 overweight and obese adults with type 2 diabetes and randomly assigned them to one of three groups.
One group of 76 received so-called usual care, which consisted of two weight loss counseling sessions and monthly checkups.
A group of 74 was put on a lower-fat Jenny Craig diet, and another group of 77 received a lower-carbohydrate Jenny Craig diet.
People in the commercial weight loss groups received packaged meals, a menu plan and frequent one-on-one counseling sessions - all provided free by Jenny Craig. They were also encouraged to increase their physical activity.
After one year of the study, 38 percent of participants in the commercial weight