Intensive diet and exercise regimen may help fight lipodystrophy

An “intensive” diet and exercise regimen may help lessen the effects of lipodystrophy, an abnormal body fat condition that is associated with the effects of anti-HIV 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, Boston Massachusetts, 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 fibre 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 “most important” finding was that the man’s visceral body fat — fat around the internal organs — dropped by 52%.

Dr 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. Dr 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.

Dr 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.

Source: Kaiser Daily HIV/AIDS Report. February 7, 2002.

Copyright by Kaiser Foundation: This summary is from the Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report and provided by, a free service of The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation. The Kaiser Daily Reproductive Health Report is published for by National Journal Group Inc. © 2002 by National Journal Group Inc. and Kaiser Family Foundation. All rights reserved.


R Roubenoff and others. Reduction of Abdominal Obesity in Lipodystrophy Associated with Human Immunodeficiency Virus Infection by Means of Diet and Exercise: Case Report and Proof of Principle. Clinical Infectious Diseases 2002; 34:390-393.

Abstract at: Retrieve&db=PubMed&list_uids=11774087&dopt=Abstract

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