Wearable Device Affects Fat Loss, Blood Sugar Regulation in Diabetes

A new wearable medical device helped patients replace a stress response that is lost for those with type 2 diabetes.

Japanese researchers have developed a wearable device that could help overweight persons with type 2 diabetes (T2D) lose visceral fat and improve glycemic control.

The team at Kumamoto University has created a belt that uses a special rubber to transmit mild electrical stimulation (MES) and heat shock. A clinical trial with the belt on obese men with T2D found reductions in visceral fat, improved insulin resistance, and a significant improvement in glycated hemoglobin (A1C), which was reduced 0.43%.

Findings were published in the journal Scientific Reports.

How does the device work? According to the team, the heat shock response increases in response to stress, but its function declines when a person has T2D. The purpose of the belt is to restore that response, with a combination of MES.

In the trial, 60 obese patients with T2D from both genders were given a 12-week treatment with the belt. The participants used it for 60 minutes per session, and divided into groups that received either 2, 4, or 7 treatments per week. According to the study, participants were not permitted to change their diet or exercise routines during this period.

Results were as follows: In the group with 2 treatments per week, visceral fat was reduced 5.37 cm2 and A1C dropped 0.10%; in the group with 4 treatments, visceral fat declined 14.24 cm2 and A1C dropped 0.36%; and in the group with 7 treatments, visceral fat declined 16.45 cm2 and A1C dropped 0.65%. Test subjects also experienced improvements in chronic inflammation, fatty liver markers, renal function, and lipid profile.

In addition, those patients using the belt while taking a dipeptidyl peptidase-4 inhibitor, the T2D drug class most often used in Japan, showed even greater improvements, researchers said.

Reference

Kondo T, Goto R, Ono K. Activation of heat shock response to treat obese subjects with type 2 diabetes: a prospective, frequency-escalating, randomized, open-label, triple-arm trial [published online October 19, 2016]. Scientific Reports. 2016; 6:35690. doi:10.1038/srep35690