Weight loss can put type 2 diabetes into remission for five years

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Researchers from Newcastle University and the University of Glasgow have found that almost a quarter (23%) of people who were in remission from type 2 diabetes at two years in a clinical trial remained in remission at five years.

These participants no longer needed to use diabetes medications to manage their blood sugar levels.

The research was an extension of the landmark Diabetes Remission Clinical Trial (DiRECT), which investigated a weight management program for people with a diagnosis of type 2 diabetes within the last six years.

The program involved a 12-week low-calorie formula diet, followed by support to gradually reintroduce healthy food and maintain weight loss.

The study was the first to show that remission from type 2 diabetes is possible through a dietary intervention in primary care, with almost half (46%) of people in remission at one year and 36% at two years.

During the extension study, 95 intervention group participants continued to receive support to help maintain weight loss over the next three years.

They received nurse or dietitian appointments at their GP surgery every three months to review their weight, blood sugar levels, and blood pressure and were offered advice and support to maintain their weight loss.

Participants who regained over 2kg during years 3-5 were offered an additional package of support, consisting of the low-calorie ‘soups and shakes’ diet for four weeks, followed by support while reintroducing normal meals.

During the three-year extension, 82 participants from the original DiRECT control group were advised to lose weight.

Control participants did not receive the three-monthly appointments or additional “soups and shakes” packages during the extension period.

The research revealed that the proportion of participants in the extension study who remained in remission after five years was more than three times that of the DiRECT control group, who did not take part in the original low-calorie diet program or receive continued low-intensity weight management support in the extension trial.

Those who were still in remission had an average weight loss of 8.9kg at five years.

The researchers found major overall benefits to people who were originally assigned to the weight loss group.

They had around half the number of serious health issues causing admission to hospital, and they also reported feeling much better as a result of the weight loss.

The team says the DiRECT inspired the NHS low-calorie diet program, granting many more people with type 2 diabetes the opportunity to put the condition into remission.

They now need to understand how best to support more people to maintain weight loss and stay in remission in the long term.

The findings also support growing evidence that weight loss and remission from type 2 diabetes can prevent or delay the complications of diabetes.

How to lose weight in type 2 diabetes

Losing weight can be beneficial for people with type 2 diabetes, as it can help improve blood sugar control and reduce the risk of complications associated with the disease.

Here are some tips on how to lose weight if you have type 2 diabetes:

Eat a balanced diet: Focus on eating a variety of foods from all food groups, including fruits, vegetables, whole grains, lean proteins, and healthy fats. Limit your intake of processed foods, sugary drinks, and high-calorie snacks.

Watch portion sizes: Be mindful of how much you are eating and use portion control methods such as measuring cups, food scales, or visual cues.

Monitor carbohydrate intake: Carbohydrates can have a big impact on blood sugar levels, so it’s important to monitor your intake. Speak to a registered dietitian to determine the appropriate amount of carbohydrates for your needs.

Be physically active: Exercise can help with weight loss and improve insulin sensitivity. Aim for at least 150 minutes of moderate-intensity exercise per week, such as brisk walking or cycling.

Consider medication: In some cases, medication may be necessary to help with weight loss. Speak to your healthcare provider to determine if this is an appropriate option for you.

It’s important to remember that weight loss should be gradual and sustainable. Speak to your healthcare provider or a registered dietitian to develop a personalized plan that meets your individual needs and goals.

If you care about weight loss, please read studies that hop extract could reduce belly fat in overweight people, and early time-restricted eating could help lose weight.

For more information about weight loss, please see recent studies that low-carb keto diet could manage obesity effectively, and Keto diet could benefit overweight people with type 2 diabetes.

The study was presented at the Diabetes UK Professional Conference 2023.

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