Intense Exercise Helped Control Obesity, Diabetes in Prader-Willi Patient Described in Case Study

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by Diogo Pinto |

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A 24-week exercise program showed encouraging results in controlling obesity and diabetes in a young man with Prader-Willi syndrome, according to a case study.

The intensive exercises resulted in reduced body weight, fat mass, and mean blood glucose. And an increase in blood insulin levels allowed researchers to stop his insulin injections starting at week 15.

The study reporting the findings is titled “Changes in body composition, blood lipid profile, and growth factor hormone in a patient with Prader-Willi syndrome during 24 weeks of complex exercise: a single case study,” and was published in The Journal of Exercise Nutrition and Biochemistry.

Prader-Willi is a genetic disease associated with an excessive appetite that leads to obesity and and increased risk of associated conditions and mortality.

Growth hormone (GH) deficiency is also a characteristic of Prader-Willi, and GH medication is frequently prescribed to patients, showing positive results. But adverse events have been reported during GH treatment.

Along with growth hormone, the production of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1), a protein similar to GH that plays an important role in childhood growth, is also affected in Prader-Willi patients due to dysfunction of the hypothalamus, a part of the brain that controls the endocrine system.

In a single-case study, South Korean researchers investigated the effects of a 24-week intensive exercise program on body composition, blood lipid profiles, and growth factor levels in a patient with Prader-Willi syndrome.

The 23-year-old man Prader-Willi enrolled in the study was diagnosed with extreme obesity (he weighed 236 pounds and 51.3% body fat mass), and type 2 diabetes.

The young man underwent a series of exercises five times per week for 24 weeks. A 60-minute training program was conducted, consisting of a five-minute warm-up, 50 minutes of exercise, and a five-minute cool-down. The program focused on strength and aerobic exercises, and included workouts on a treadmill, rowing machine, and weight training.

Blood sampling was collected five times: before and at eight, 16, 20, and 24 weeks after the beginning of the exercise program.

Results showed that the program resulted in a lower body weight (12.3 pounds),  lower fat percentage (2%) and lower triglycerides/high-density lipoprotein (TG/HDL) ratio.

The TG/HDL ratio in the patient fell to below 3.0, “lower than the level that creates a risk of insulin resistance and cardiovascular disease,” showing that the exercise program was successful, according to the researchers.

The Prader-Willi patient’s diabetes numbers also fell, with reductions in mean blood sugar and increase in blood insulin levels.

Regarding growth factors levels after training, GH levels were reduced, while IGF-1 levels were increased. IGF-1 not only increased after training, but also continuously throughout the 24 weeks of the exercise program.

After weeks 15 and 20 of training, the patient was able to discontinue treatment with his insulin drugs (namely Lantus SoloStar (insulin glargine) and NovoRapid (fast-acting insulin analog). His average blood glucose decreased, and his insulin levels increased to normal values.

“Twenty-four weeks of complex exercises had a positive effect on obesity and diabetes in the patient with [Prader-Willi syndrome],” the researchers concluded.

“Therefore, long-period complex exercises might be an effective intervention for improvement of metabolic factors in [Prader-Willi] patients,” they added.