Weight Loss Can Lead to Reversal of Type 2 Diabetes

TYPE 2 diabetes can be reversed or put into remission through significant weight loss, according to first year results of a trial led by researchers at Newcastle University and Glasgow University. The study found that of patients supported by GPs on a weight loss programme, half experienced a reversal in their diabetes in a year, and 86% of diabetes patients who lost ≥15 kg were classed as in remission.

The data come from the DiRECT trial of 298 people. Half of the cohort received standard diabetes care from their GP, and the other half were put on a structured weight management programme within primary care. Patients on the weight programme were given a low calorie, nutrient-complete diet for 3–5 months, and then supported by GP staff with food reintroduction and long-term support to maintain their weight loss.

It was found that 45.6% of patients on the programme were able to completely stop their Type 2 diabetes medications. Remission, defined as having blood glucose levels of <6.5% at 12 months, with a minimum of 2 months without any Type 2 diabetes medications, was achieved in 86% of patients who lost ≥15 kg, 57% who lost 10–15 kg, and 34% who lost 5–10 kg. This compared to just 4% of patients who received standard care for their diabetes.

Lead researcher of the trial, Prof Roy Taylor, Newcastle University, Newcastle, UK, commented: “These findings are very exciting. They could revolutionise the way Type 2 diabetes is treated. The study builds on the work into the underlying cause of the condition, so that we can target management effectively. Substantial weight loss results in reduced fat inside the liver and pancreas, allowing these organs to return to normal function. What we’re seeing from DiRECT is that losing weight isn’t just linked to better management of Type 2 diabetes: significant weight loss could actually result in lasting remission.”

The ongoing trial, which aims to find an effective and accessible way to put Type 2 diabetes into remission for the long term, will now seek to understand why remission is achieved by significant weight loss to ascertain which groups could benefit from this sort of programme in the future.

James Coker, Senior Editorial Assistant

For further information on this study, click here.

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