Most cases of ]]>type 2 diabetes]]> can be attributed to ]]>obesity]]> , which has become a worldwide epidemic. Moreover, excess weight in people with type 2 diabetes increases their risk of ]]>heart disease]]> and ]]>stroke]]> . In theory, weight loss is simple: people who consume fewer calories than they expend will lose weight. But losing weight is a struggle for many people, so researchers are investigating new ways to help people cut calories.

A new study published in the June 25, 2007 issue of the Archives of Internal Medicine tested the effects of a commercially available "diet plate" designed to help control portion sizes. They found that the use of the plate was associated with significantly more weight loss than usual care in people with type 2 diabetes.

About the Study

Researchers from the University of Calgary randomly assigned 130 obese people with type 2 diabetes to one of two groups. The first group used a portion-controlling dinner plate and cereal bowl (The Diet Plate®, Glossop, England) as a weight loss tool. The second group served as controls and did not receive any weight loss treatment outside of usual care. The researchers followed the participants for six months, tracking their weight and any changes in diabetes medications.

The researchers found that the participants who used the diet plate and bowl lost significantly more weight than the control group—4.6 versus 0.2 pounds on average, respectively. In addition, compared with the control group, the participants who used the diet plate and bowl were able to decrease their use of hypoglycemic medications, which are used to control blood sugar in patients with type 2 diabetes.

The interpretation of these results are limited by the fact that frequent restaurant diners were excluded from the study, since using the diet plate and bowl would be difficult away from home.

How Does This Affect You?

These findings suggest that people with type 2 diabetes who need to lose weight may benefit from using portion-controlling plates and bowls. In fact, the effects of using the plate and bowl were comparable to weight loss medications, which can be can be associated with adverse health effects and are more expensive. (The Diet Plate® dinner plate costs $35 plus shipping.) The next step is to study the use of portion-controlling dishes in overweight and obese people who do not have type 2 diabetes to see if it can help them lose weight.

If you need to lose weight, learning to control your portions may help. You can do this at home by using smaller plates and bowls, and by filling at least half of your dinner plate with vegetables, and the other half with smaller amounts of lean meats and whole grains.