Type 2 Diabetes Reversible With Low Calorie Diet

April 4, 2016

Even patients who have had the condition for up to 10 years can reverse it by losing weight and then maintaining the weight loss.

Eating a very low calorie diet may reverse type 2 diabetes mellitus (DM), according to a new study.

Even patients who have had type 2 DM for up to 10 years can reverse their condition by losing weight and then maintaining the weight loss, researchers said.

The study is part of a growing body of evidence showing that patients with type 2 DM who successfully lose weight can reverse their condition because fat is removed from the pancreas, returning insulin production to normal.

“What we have shown is that it is possible to reverse your diabetes, even if you have had the condition for a long time, up to around 10 years. If you have had the diagnosis for longer than that, then don’t give up hope-major improvement in blood sugar control is possible,” said senior author Roy Taylor, Professor of Medicine and Metabolism at Newcastle University in Newcastle, UK.

“The study also answered the question that people often ask me, if I lose the weight and keep the weight off, will I stay free of diabetes?” he added. “The simple answer is yes!”

In the study, 30 patients with type 2 DM (duration, 6 months to 23 years) followed a very low calorie diet for 8 weeks, 3 shakes per day and 240 gm of non-starchy vegetables, taking in 600 to 700 cal a day. The patients then gradually returned to eating normal food over the next 2 weeks with very careful instruction on how much to eat. They were seen once a month and supported with an individualized weight maintenance program over the next 6 months. To keep weight steady after the weight loss, they ate about one-third fewer calories than before the study.

The patients lost an average of nearly 31 lb and were able to maintain a steady weight for 6 months. Twelve patients who had type 2 DM for less than a decade remained diabetes-free at the 6-month mark. After 6 months, the disease had reversed in another patient.

The researchers concluded that “a robust and sustainable weight loss program achieved continuing remission of diabetes for at least 6 months” for those who responded by achieving fasting plasma glucose of < 7 mmol/L.

“Interestingly, even though all our volunteers remained obese or overweight, the fat did not drift back to clog up the pancreas,” said Professor Taylor. “This supports our theory of a personal fat threshold. If a person gains more weight than they personally can tolerate, then diabetes is triggered, but if they then lose that amount of weight then they go back to normal.”

Persons vary in how much weight they can carry without it seeming to affect their metabolism, he said, noting that 70% of severely obese persons do not have DM.

“The bottom line is that if a person really wants to get rid of their type 2 diabetes, they can lose weight, keep it off, and return to normal,” Professor Taylor stated.

The researchers published their results online March 21, 2016 in Diabetes Care.