Impact of Intensive Lifestyle Intervention on Depression and Health-Related Quality of Life in Type 2 Diabetes: The Look AHEAD Trial

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We examined the effects of an intensive lifestyle intervention (ILI), compared with a diabetes support and education (DSE) control intervention, on long-term changes in depression symptoms, antidepressant medication (ADM) use, and health-related quality of life (HRQoL) in overweight/obese individuals with type 2 diabetes.


Look AHEAD was a multisite randomized controlled trial of 5,145 overweight/obese participants assigned to ILI (designed to produce weight loss) or DSE and followed for a median of 9.6 years. The Beck Depression Inventory (BDI) was administered at baseline, annually at years 1–4, and again at year 8. Mean BDI scores and incidence of BDI scores ≥10, indicative of likely mild or greater depression, were examined. Annually through year 10, participants reported their ADM use and completed the Medical Outcomes Study Short Form 36 (SF-36) questionnaire, which yields physical component summary (PCS) and mental component summary (MCS) scores.


ILI significantly reduced the incidence of mild or greater depression symptoms (BDI scores ≥10) compared with DSE (hazard ratio [HR] = 0.85; 95% CI 0.75–0.97; P = 0.0145). Although SF-36 PCS scores worsened over time in both groups, ILI participants reported better physical function than DSE throughout the first 8 years (all P values <0.01). There were no significant differences between treatment arms in the proportion of participants who used ADMs or in SF-36 MCS scores.


ILI for overweight/obese patients with type 2 diabetes may reduce the risk of developing clinically significant symptoms of depression and preserve physical HRQoL. These findings should be considered when evaluating the potential benefits of ILIs.

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