Type 2 diabetes isn't necessarily for life, with a 2017 clinical trial providing some of the clearest evidence yet that the condition can be reversed, even in patients who have carried the disease for several years. A clinical trial involving almost 300 people in the UK found an intensive weight management program put type 2 diabetes into remission for 86 percent of patients who lost 15 kilograms (33 lbs) or more.
Participants were randomly assigned to either an intensive weight management program or to regular diabetic care administered by their GP, acting as a control group. For the 149 individuals placed in the weight management program, participants had to restrict themselves to a low-calorie formula diet consisting of things like health shakes and soups, limiting them to consuming 825-853 calories per day for a period of three to five months.
Almost 90 percent of those who lost 15 kilograms (33 lbs) or more, successfully reversed their type 2 diabetes. More than half (57 percent) of those dropping 10 to 15 kilograms (22 to 33 lbs) achieved remission also. For those who lost less weight – between 5 to 10 kilograms (11 to 22 lbs) – the reversal still worked for more than a third (34 percent) of participants.
The researchers say their results show dietary intervention alone could help us revolutionise how we think about type 2 diabetes and its treatment, as it clearly isn't the lifelong, chronic condition scientists once assumed it was. Of course, the reversal isn't permanent if people revert to unhealthy ways of eating – which in most cases would have contributed to their type 2 diagnosis in the first place.
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