Low-calorie diet can 'reverse' Type 2 diabetes: study

Attica owner-chef Ben Shewry's lunch salad recipe with cucumber, soft-boiled egg and walnuts.
Attica owner-chef Ben Shewry's lunch salad recipe with cucumber, soft-boiled egg and walnuts.  Photo: Ben Shewry

LONDON: Type 2 diabetes can be reversed for at least two years using a weight management program, a study has found.

More than one-third (36 per cent) of people with the condition who spent up to five months on a strict diet with NHS support were still in remission 24 months later, the latest results of a British trial show.

The scientists behind the study said the findings "pull down the curtain on the era of Type 2 diabetes as an inevitably progressive disease".

Significant weight loss is closely linked with sustaining remission of the condition, they suggest.

About 300 people in Scotland and Tyneside with Type 2 diabetes were recruited for the trial, funded by charity Diabetes UK.

Half received standard diabetes care from their GP and half were placed on a weight management program.

This involved a diet of around 800 calories (3350 kilojoules) per day for up to five months, with support from a nurse or dietitian to maintain the weight.

The first year results, published in 2017, showed 46 per cent of participants had reversed their Type 2 diabetes after one year.

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Almost two-thirds (64 per cent) of those who lost more than 10 kilograms through the program were in remission after two years, the latest findings of the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology show.

Those in remission after the first year, who remained free of Type 2 diabetes in the second year, had an average weight loss of 15.5 kilograms.

Among those who did not stay in remission, the average weight loss was 12 kilograms.

Professor Roy Taylor, from Newcastle University, said: "These results are a significant development, and finally pull down the curtain on the era of Type 2 diabetes as an inevitably progressive disease.

"We now understand the biological nature of this reversible condition. However, everyone in remission needs to know that evidence to date tells us that your Type 2 diabetes will return if you regain weight."

Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of glucose in the blood to become too high.

The researchers suggest weight loss can lower levels of fat inside the pancreas, helping it to recover and aiding production of insulin.

AAP