Study Finds Intensive Diet and Exercise Regimen Could Help Fight Lipodystrophy in Persons With HIV
An "intensive" diet and exercise regimen may help lessen the effects of lipodystrophy, an abnormal body fat condition that is a common side effect of antiretroviral medication, according to an anecdotal report published in the February issue of Clinical Infectious Diseases. Reuters Health reports that lipodystrophy, which causes an atypical redistribution of fat in the body, can put patients at risk for atherosclerosis, diabetes and hypertension. Dr. Ronenn Roubenoff of Tufts University and colleagues studied a 44-year-old HIV-positive man who experienced lipodystrophy while undergoing highly active antiretroviral therapy. Within the first 2.5 years of HAART, the man had gained roughly 30 pounds and experienced abnormal fat redistribution, losing weight in his limbs while experiencing enlargement of the breasts and waistline. To lower the patient's body fat and cholesterol, researchers tested a four-month regimen of diet and exercise. Three times per week the patient performed a 75-minute exercise program that combined cardiovascular work and strength training. He also consumed at least 25 grams of dietary fiber daily and followed a diet in which 15% of his total caloric intake was derived from protein and 30% of his calories came from fat, with the remainder derived from carbohydrates. At the end of four months, the patient had lost 14 pounds, lowered his cholesterol levels and experienced a 28% decrease in body fat. But the "[m]ost importan[t]" finding was that the man's visceral body fat -- fat around the internal organs -- dropped by 52%. Roubenoff explained in a Reuters Health interview that visceral body fat is most strongly associated with a person's risk for diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Roubenoff added that one year after the study, the patient, who had maintained the diet and exercise regimen outlined in the research, still retained many of the physical improvements witnessed after the first four months. Roubenoff stated that the research could help other people with HIV who are experiencing lipodystrophy, but he added that it might be difficult for patients to afford a personal trainer and a nutritionist, both of whom assisted the patient during the study. However, he added that the results demonstrate that "lifestyle solution[s]," not just pharmaceuticals, can be a "powerful" treatment for this and many other conditions (Mulvihill, Reuters Health, 2/5).This is part of the KHN Morning Briefing, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.