Radical Diet Can Reverse Type 2 Diabetes

HeraldScotland Professor Mike Lean

They could revolutionise the way type 2 diabetes is treated. For decades, doctors have treated it with medications created to keep blood sugar levels down. Half of the practices put their patients on the very low calorie diet, while the rest were a control group, in which patients received usual care. None of the patients took any daibetes medication for the disease during the study and instead focused exclusively on the effects of weight loss on the chronic condition.

Type 2 diabetes is caused by the body's in ability to break down sugars from the diet.

According to Dr Sujeet Jha from Max hospital Saket, radical weight loss helps remove excess fat from the pancreas. In Type 1, the immune system destroys the cells in the pancreas that make insulin. Diabetes medications can bring sugar levels down but do not address the compromised insulin machinery.

The trial, which is called the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), builds on earlier work by co-lead investigator Prof.

Worldwide, the number of people with type 2 diabetes has quadrupled over 35 years, rising from 108 million in 1980 to 422 million in 2014. The people assigned to the diet group stopped any diabetes drugs they were taking on the same day they began the diet.

The weight loss programme included a low calorie, nutrient-complete diet for 3-5 months, food reintroduction, increase in physical activity and long-term support to maintain weight loss.

"Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function".

By the end of the first year, almost a quarter (36 of the 149) people on the weight management program had lost 15 kilograms (33.1 pounds). Thirty-one of 36 participants who lost 33 lbs of more experienced remission.

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The Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), funded by Diabetes UK and published today in the Lancet, found that after 12 months nearly half of participants had achieved remission to a non-diabetic state on an intensive calorie controlled programme without increasing diabetes medication. "It isn't an irreversible, inexorable condition that you can never escape from - at the moment, people are told that". "The weight loss goals provided by this program are achievable for many people".

Among both groups, weight loss was most closely correlated with disease remission.

The study will continue following the cohort for a further four years.

"We've found that people were really interested in this approach - nearly a third of those who were asked to take part in the study agreed", explained Lean, a nutritionist.

Researchers from Newcastle and Glasgow Universities believe they have found a way to effectively reverse type 2 diabetes, without requiring a new kind of drug or invasive surgery.

That points to an important lesson that Taylor hopes doctors and patients will learn from the results.

Dr Emily Burns, Diabetes UK acting head of research communications, said: 'Thanks to ground-breaking research like DiRECT we're beginning to change the conversation around Type 2 diabetes, and that's a conversation that Global Positioning System can have with their patients as well. If more people can benefit from losing weight alone, then that would mean less cost to the health care system, as fewer people will suffer the serious complications of advanced disease, which can include heart problems, neuropathy, vision issues and even amputations.

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