People who are obese and have type 2 diabetes can reduce atherosclerosis by 20 percent by losing just 13 pounds, according to a new Australian study. Heart disease causes 68 percent of deaths among people with diabetes who have a six-fold greater risk of developing heart disease due to atherosclerosis or hardening of the arteries. In the study, 14 obese people with type 2 diabetes or pre-diabetes had gastric banding surgery and were put on a calorie-restricted diet for 24 weeks. The researchers found that weight loss reduced inflammation generated by fat tissue, which in turn reduced the activation of immune cells and circulating pro-inflammatory molecules, allowing the arteries to relax. “We found that the degree of inflammation in fat tissue specifically predicted how much arteries relaxed during a weight-loss program, meaning that people with higher levels of inflammation had arteries that did not relax as much,” says co-researcher Katherine Samaras. “To our knowledge, this is the first study to examine the relationships between weight loss-induced improvements in arterial stiffness and the immune response.”