Low calorie diet ‘puts type 2 diabetes into remission’

By Editor
5th December 2017
Research, Type 2 diabetes Type 2 prevention

Type 2 diabetes can be put into remission using an intensive low calorie diet-based weight management programme delivered entirely in primary care, research has suggested.

The first year findings of the study entitled Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) show almost half of those who took part in the programme were in remission after 12 months. Remission was defined as having blood glucose levels (HbA1c) of less than 6.5% per cent (48mmol/mol) at 12 months, with at least two months without any type 2 diabetes medications.

Of the 298 people recruited to take part in DiRECT, half received standard diabetes care from their GP, while the other half received a structured weight management programme within primary care. The programme included a low calorie, nutrient-complete diet for three to five months, food reintroduction and long-term support to maintain weight loss.

Type 2 diabetes remission was found to be closely related to weight loss. Almost nine out of 10 people (86 per cent) who lost 15kg or more, put their type 2 diabetes into remission. Over half (57 per cent) of those who lost 10 to 15kg achieved remission, along with a third (34 per cent) of those who lost five to 10kg. Only four per cent of the control group achieved remission.

Underlying cause

The findings will be published in The Lancet and presented at the International Diabetes Federation Congress in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday, December 5, 2017 by the lead researchers, Professor Mike Lean from the University of Glasgow and Professor Roy Taylor from Newcastle University.

Professor Taylor said: “These findings are very exciting. They could revolutionise the way type 2 diabetes is treated. This builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively.

“Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function. What we’re seeing from DiRECT is that losing weight isn’t just linked to better management of type 2 diabetes: significant weight loss could actually result in lasting remission.”

Professor Lean added: “Putting type 2 diabetes into remission as early as possible after diagnosis could have extraordinary benefits, both for the individual and the NHS. DiRECT is telling us it could be possible for as many as half of patients to achieve this in routine primary care, and without drugs.”

The two-year study, funded by Diabetes UK, set about finding an effective and accessible way to put type 2 diabetes into remission for the long term. The trial was delivered through GP practices across Scotland and Tyneside to find out if the benefits of a structured weight management programme can be felt in a real-life primary care setting.

Diabetes.co.uk’s Low Carb Program is also proving to be a highly effective digital intervention. So far more than 250,000 have joined and results show that 60 per cent of people with type 2 diabetes were able to stop using insulin following the program. According to latest figures, it also reduces HbA1c by 1.17 per cent, while 37 per cent of participants reduce their medication dependency.

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