A U.S. study shows that even a small percentage of weight loss could lower healthcare costs among people with type 2 diabetes.

The research, which included data gathered from an HMO claims data base

between 1997-2005, was presented Monday at the 66th Annual Scientific Sessions of the American Diabetes Association in Washington.

Analysis Group Inc., a national economic consulting firm, found that study participants with diabetes who experienced 1 percent weight loss decreased their average healthcare costs by 3.6 percent over the 12 months following the weight loss, or approximately $256.

Results were even more significant among patients considered obese. For that group, a 1 percent weight loss was associated with a 5.6 percent decrease in healthcare costs, or approximately $408.

"The results of this short-term study suggest the benefits weight loss

can have beyond disease management and overall health among people with type 2 diabetes. There’s a dollars and cents incentive for patients and the entire healthcare system to devote resources to weight loss and disease management," said study author E.Q. Wu, senior associate with the consulting firm.