A crash diet lasting just three months can reverse Type 2 diabetes, a landmark study has shown. Nearly half the people who underwent the diet saw their condition go into remission — providing the strongest evidence yet that diabetes can be eradicated by simply losing weight.
The patients had struggled with their condition for up to six years, using drugs to control their blood sugar levels. But a year after starting the 850-calorie-a-day diet, 75 percent were drug free and 46 percent had seen their blood sugar drop so far they were no longer considered diabetic.
Among those who lost the most weight the results were even more extraordinary, the Lancet publication shows.
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. The British project — led by the universities of Newcastle and Glasgow — could fundamentally change the way the NHS deals with the UK’s booming diabetes epidemic.
More than four million people in Britain have Type 2 diabetes, costing the NHS £14 billion a year. The disease — driven by obesity —was thought to be incurable once developed, and patients are usually just given drugs to control their blood sugar.
Study leader Professor Roy Taylor, of Newcastle University, said: ‘These findings are very exciting. The weightloss goals provided by this programme are achievable for many people.’
The team believes Type 2 diabetes is caused when accumulated fat in the pancreas and liver interferes with insulin production, which in turn sees blood sugar levels spiking. Professor Taylor said: ‘Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing the organs to return to normal function.’
The study, presented at the International Diabetes Federation congress in Abu Dhabi yesterday, tracked 298 patients. Half were given weight-loss advice and left to manage their condition. 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.
Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: ‘These findings demonstrate the potential to transform the lives of millions of people. But it’s important that anyone with Type 2 diabetes considering losing weight in this way seeks advice from a health professional.’