Losing weight can reverse diabetes without drugs

Henrietta Strickland
December 7, 2017

A clinical trial of almost 300 people aged between 20 and 65 showed that type 2 diabetes could be reversed after an extreme weight management plan. Interesting, indeed, as numerous current treatments for type 2 diabetes involve medication and even surgery to restrict stomach capacity. More specifically, by reducing the amount of fat being carried in and around the abdomen, as accumulated fat in this region impedes the function of the pancreas. It can lead to serious and life-threatening complications, including blindness and foot amputations, heart and kidney disease.

A new study discovered that weight loss really can cure diabetes.

Some 86 percent of people who lost more than 15kg went into remission, along with 57 per cent of those who lost 10kg to 15kg, and 34 per cent of those who lost 5kg to 10kg. This builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively. Professor Taylor said: 'Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing the organs to return to normal function'.

The first year findings of the study entitled Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) show nearly half of those who took part in the programme were in remission after 12 months.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO), global diabetes cases have increased from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. This is expected to climb to 642 million by 2040.

In comparison, only 4% of the group treated with regular diabetes care showed signs of remission.

The patients had struggled with their condition for up to six years, using drugs to control their blood sugar levels. "Diet and lifestyle are touched upon, but diabetes remission by cutting calories is rarely discussed", said Taylor. Patients who have been living with the disease for 10 years or more have also suffered a loss of some cells which make the weight loss method alone ineffective.

There were 298 adults on the trial aged 20-65, who had been diagnosed with type 2 diabetes within the last six years, from 49 primary care practices in Scotland and Tyneside. Half of the patients were put on a low-calorie diet and lost an average of 10 to 15 kg (22 to 33 pounds).

Professor Michael Lean, fellow co-lead from the University of Glasgow, added: 'Follow up of this group to establish longer-term outcomes will continue to at least four years. The other half were taken off drugs and put on a strict diet of no more than 853 calories a day for three months, eating only diet shakes or soups.

After this first intense stage, other food was reintroduced into their daily diets and they were supported in their weight loss efforts by health professionals, including cognitive behavioural therapists. "I don't think of myself as a diabetic anymore".

"These findings are very exciting", Taylor told Science Alert. The weightloss goals provided by this programme are achievable for many people'. "The big challenge is long-term avoidance of weight re-gain", he said.

Other reports by Click Lancashire

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