Drastic weight loss can reverse diabetes, study shows

Low-calorie diet helped type 2 diabetes patients into remission, without the need for medication

Close up nurse demonstrating insulin pen on finger
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A landmark study by the University of Glasgow, and published in The Lancet, has found drastic results in patients with type 2 diabetes who went into remission on a rapid weight reduction programme, without the need for medication.

Half of the 300 people in the study received standard diabetes care, while the rest took a structured weight management programme, reducing calorie intake to between 825-853 calories a day for three to five months.

Just 4 per cent of those given standard diabetes treatments went into remission, whereas 46 per cent of those on the weight loss programme experienced diabetes reversal.

Patients who lost more weight were more likely to experience a reversal of their diabetes.

Of those who lost 15kg or more on the diet, 86 per cent put their type 2 diabetes into remission, whilst of those who lost 10 to 15kg, 57 per cent achieved remission. In patients who lost 5-10kg, 34 per cent achieved remission.

The results were similar to what would be usually seen after a patient has gone through bariatric surgery.

“These studies provide proof in principle that shows extreme diets can reverse diabetes to the point where patients don’t need medication to control it anymore,” said Dr Bu Hayee, a consultant gastroenterologist, at King’s College Hospital – UAE.

“But these diets are extreme and can be very hard to maintain. One of those, the Newcastle diet, is just 600 calories a day.


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“These studies are telling us we can do things without medication and surgery that impact on these diseases.

“It is difficult for people to maintain the level of diet and exercise required.

“We can help give people a kick-start along the process and ask them to adopt some form of diet and lifestyle change, as that is the best way of bringing forward success.”