Diabetes can be 'cured' by diet of 800 calories a day
More than a third of sufferers who took part in a weight management programme delivered by their GP reversed their condition and were still in remission two years later. The trial, funded by Diabetes UK, saw 298 people commit to a diet of just 800 calories per day for between 12 and 20 weeks. They were then reintroduced to healthy normal foods and given help to achieve long-term weight loss.
After one year 46 per cent of participants found their blood glucose had returned to healthy levels.
Now, second year results from the Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT) show that 36 per cent are still free of Type 2 diabetes today.
Professor Roy Taylor, co-primary investigator of the study, said the findings “pull down the curtain on the era of Type 2 diabetes as an inevitably progressive disease”.
“We now understand the biological nature of this reversible condition,” he said. “However, everyone in remission needs to know that evidence to date tells us that your Type 2 diabetes will return if you regain weight. Even during the second year of freedom from Type 2 diabetes there was a highly suggestive difference in major complications of diabetes.”
The second year results of the trial, led by experts at Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow, were announced yesterday at Diabetes UK’s Professional Conference and published in The Lancet Diabetes & Endocrinology.
They showed that the likelihood of a patient remaining in remission was closely linked to weight loss.
Those who lost 1st 8lb (10kg) or more almost doubled their chance of being healthy two years later – 64 per cent are still in remission.
Type 2 diabetes is a common condition that causes the level of sugar in the blood to become too high when the body has an insulin imbalance. Dr Elizabeth Robertson, director of research at Diabetes UK, said: “These results further challenge the perception that Type 2 diabetes needs to be a lifelong condition for everyone diagnosed with it.”
While the findings were “exciting” Dr Robertson also said Type-2 diabetes “is a complex condition and this approach will not work for everyone”. In November NHS England announced it would pilot a Type 2 remission programme involving 5,000 patients.
It could save the NHS billions of pounds. The cost of providing the DiRECT programme for 12 months was £1,067 per person.
Managing Type 2 diabetes for one patient costs the NHS an estimated £2,801 per year.
CASE STUDY 1
JOE McSorley saw no warning signs before he was diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes in 2015.
The 58-year-old BT network engineer said the thought of having to take medication for the rest of his life led him to take part in DiRECT.
All he consumed for 12 weeks was four daily shakes, containing 200 calories each.
Joe said: “I went from being 14½st to 11½st.
“In the process I went off my diabetes medication and I don’t require it now because as a result of the trial my blood sugar level returned to normal.”
Joe, who lives in Glasgow with his wife Yi and stepson Xin, is planning to become a personal trainer when he retires.
CASE STUDY 2
ISOBEL Murray was the first person in Scotland to sign up to the DiRECT trial and lost four stone in less than a year.
The former civil servant had diabetes diagnosed in 2011 and needed increasing doses of medication to keep it under control, which left her feeling unwell.
Isobel, 67, committed to an 800-a-day calorie diet and in just 17 weeks her diabetes went into remission.
She said: “When I was first told that my diabetes was remission, I felt ecstatic. Over the last few years I’ve been able to lead a normal life again.”
The mum-of-two, who lives in North Ayrshire with husband James, is still in remission and no longer needs diabetes medication. She added: “I feel 10 years younger and will do everything in my power to never go back to how things were before.”