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Beware: Weight Loss Not Just Due to Patient’s Healthier Habits

Dec 8, 2020

Sudden weight loss may not always be a positive sign.

A patient, 62 years of age, with type 2 diabetes, obesity, and an intellectual disability disorder, had been a patient at our clinic for over ten years. Treatment included metformin and insulin. He met regularly with his endocrinologist and diabetes educator. He often spoke about wanting to lose weight but continued to gain or remain weight stable over the years. When he recently came in for his threemonth visit, he had lost 10 pounds, and his A1C was 7.2%, which was an improvement for him. He was proud of his weight loss and lowered A1C. He told us he was eating less and doing what he had been taught to do. He mentioned he had some intermittent “stomach aches” and bowel changes, however. 


Suspecting that there might be more to this patient’s condition than simple adherence would explain given his history, a complete workup was done plus a referral to a gastroenterologist for a colonoscopy. He was diagnosed with colon cancer but is now being treated.  

Lesson Learned: 

  • Although weight loss is indicated for type 2 diabetes and obesity, losing weight does not always mean better treatment adherence. 
  • When a drastic change is noted, even to what seems on the outward to be positive, investigate further. 


If you have a “Diabetes Disaster Averted” story like this one about sudden weight loss, please let us know! If we feature your Disaster Averted in our Diabetes Clinical Mastery Series e-newsletter, you will receive a $25 gift card. Please click here to submit a short summary of the incident, what you feel you learned from handling the incident, and your name and title. If you prefer to remain anonymous, please let us know, but still give us your name and address (so we can send you the gift card).







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