Ads on TV and in magazines are promoting weight loss programs specifically designed for diabetics. Weight loss is crucial to successful treatment of type 2 (adult onset) diabetes and is a highly desirable goal. In practice however, weight loss diets for diabetics can be dangerous if not properly supervised. Many adult diabetics are taking powerful medications to lower their blood sugars. These medications can work through several different mechanisms in the body, some of which can lead to hypoglycemia which is abnormally low blood sugar. Hypoglycemia may occur almost without warning resulting in rapid heart beating, sweating, confusion , poor coordination and even unconsciousness. When a diabetic begins a weight loss program, if their medication is not adjusted appropriately the risk of hypoglycemia goes up dramatically.

Most of the weight loss programs being advertised are designed by professionals but administered by non-medical personnel. Although their over-all goal is a good one, it seems to me that these programs are putting people at risk and are equivalent to engaging in practicing medicine without a license. It is careless to assume that the dieter’s doctor will be in a position to immediately make accurate medication adjustments when the diet begins.

Have you ever come across ads from lawyers soliciting clients who have been injured by products, including prescription medications? My thought is that soon these lawyers will be soliciting business from people who developed hypoglycemia on commercial diabetic weight loss programs, resulting in injury to themselves or others.

Gary Pepper, M.D.

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