Study gives hope of Type 2 diabetes remission through dieting and weight loss

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The most common form of diabetes could be put into remission with dieting and weight loss, a study has found.

Around half of those with Type 2 went into remission after 12 months using an intensive low calorie diet and no medication, according to the trial.

The vast majority of diabetes cases are Type 2, which is strongly linked to lifestyle - poor diet, excess weight and inactivity - as well as genetics.

Around 300 people in Scotland and Tyneside took part in the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial, funded by Diabetes UK.

Half received standard care from their GP, while the other half received a structured weight management programme.

Findings from the first year showed that around 46% of those who took part in the diet programme were in remission after 12 months.

Participant Isobel Murray, 65, from North Ayrshire, lost more than 22kg and no longer needs diabetes medication.

She said: "I was on various medications which were constantly increasing and I was becoming more and more ill every day.

"When the doctors told me that my pancreas was working again, it felt fantastic, absolutely amazing. I don't think of myself as a diabetic any more. I get all my diabetes checks done, but I don't feel like a diabetic."

The trial found that around 86% of those who lost 15kg or more went into remission, compared with 4% of the control group.

The findings, which will be published in The Lancet medical journal, also stated that 57% who lost 10 to 15kg and 34% of those who lost five to 10kg also went into remission.

Remission was defined as having blood glucose levels (HbA1c) of less than 6.5% (48mmol/mol), with at least two months without any Type 2 diabetes medications.

Lead researcher Professor Roy Taylor, from Newcastle University, described the results as "very exciting" and said 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," he added.

Lead researcher Professor Mike Lean, from the University of Glasgow, said: "Putting Type 2 diabetes into remission as early as possible after diagnosis could have extraordinary benefits, both for the individual and the NHS.

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

"This is much higher than usual acceptance rates for diabetes clinical trials. "

Diabetes UK will contribute another £300,000 towards the trial, which will continue with follow-ups for participants for up to three years to assess how cost-effective the programme is.

Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: "We're very encouraged by these initial results, and the building of robust evidence that remission could be achievable for some people.

"The trial is ongoing, so that we can understand the long-term effects of an approach like this.

"It's very important that anyone living with Type 2 diabetes considering losing weight in this way seeks support and advice from a healthcare professional."