Weight loss aids type 2 reversal
People who have had type 2 diabetes for up to 10 years can reverse their condition, according to new research.
A new study suggested that people who manage to reverse their diabetes and then keep their weight down can also remain free from the condition.
The findings, which have been published in Diabetes Care, supports previous evidence that has shown weight loss can have a positive effect on people with type 2 diabetes.
It is thought fat removal from the pancreas helps restore normal insulin production, reversing the type 2 diagnosis.
The latest study has been led by Roy Taylor, who is the professor of medicine and metabolism at Newcastle University, who also works within Newcastle Hospitals.
He said: “What we have shown is that it is possible to reverse your diabetes, even if you have had the condition for a long time, up to around 10 years. If you have had the diagnosis for longer than that, then don’t give up hope – major improvement in blood sugar control is possible.
“The study also answered the question that people often ask me – if I lose the weight and keep the weight off, will I stay free of diabetes? The simple answer is yes!”
A total of 30 volunteers with type 2 diabetes participated in the study. They were put on a controlled diet of between 600 to 700 calories a day.
On average they lost about 14 kilograms and kept the weight off for the next six months.
Interestingly, even though all our volunteers remained obese or overweight, the fat did not drift back to clog up the pancreas
The group included many people with longer duration diabetes, defined as more than eight years and ranging up to 23 years.
Overall, 12 patients who had had diabetes for less than 10 years reversed their condition and remained diabetes free six months later.
Though the volunteers lost weight they remained overweight or obese but they had lost enough weight to remove the fat out of the pancreas and allow normal insulin production.
Professor Taylor said: “Interestingly, even though all our volunteers remained obese or overweight, the fat did not drift back to clog up the pancreas.
“This supports our theory of a personal fat threshold. If a person gains more weight than they personally can tolerate, then diabetes is triggered, but if they then lose that amount of weight then they go back to normal.
“Individuals vary in how much weight they can carry without it seeming to affect their metabolism – don’t forget that 70% of severely obese people do not have diabetes.
“The bottom line is that if a person really wants to get rid of their type 2 diabetes, they can lose weight, keep it off and return to normal.”
A previous study led by Professor Taylor, published in 2011, showed that diabetes could be reversed by a very low calorie diet.
This caused international interest, but the study was very short as it was only eight weeks and the question remained whether the diabetes would stay away.
The study was funded by a National Institute for Health Research Biomedical Research Centre (NIHR BRC) grant.